Robert Coover, The Public Burning

Download PDF Add to Bookshelf Report an Error

First published in 1977,

The Public Burning

combines a dramatic representation of the last three days of the so-called “atomic spies”, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, with a satirical portrait of Richard Nixon. Bawdy, scatological, and devastating in its political and historical ruminations, it is Robert Coover’s best-known work, and considered by many to be both a comic and postmodernist masterpiece.

The novel stemmed from Coover’s belief in the mid-1960s that the executions of the Rosenbergs in 1953, which he considered “the watershed event for America”, had virtually disappeared from public consciousness (Bell 2000: 7). His original intention was to transform the executions into a piece of radical street theatre, but it soon became apparent as his research expanded that a larger

2427 words

Citation: Savvas, Theophilus. "The Public Burning". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 08 February 2011 [, accessed 18 July 2024.]

7487 The Public Burning 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

Save this article

If you need to create a new bookshelf to save this article in, please make sure that you are logged in, then go to your 'Account' here

Leave Feedback

The Literary Encyclopedia is a living community of scholars. We welcome comments which will help us improve.