Out of This Furnace
|Genre||Novel, family saga|
|Publisher||Little, Brown & University of Pittsburgh Press|
|1941 (rediscovered & reissued 1976)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-8229-5273-4 Paperback|
|LC Class||PZ3.B4153 Ou12 PS3503.E4388|
|Preceded by||All Brides are Beautiful|
|Followed by||Till I Come Back to You|
The novel is set in Braddock, Pennsylvania, a steel town just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania along the Monongahela River. It was first published in 1941 by Little, Brown and Company. Based upon Bell's own family of Rusyn and Slovak immigrants, the story follows three generations of a family, starting with their migration in 1881 from Austria-Hungary to the United States, and finishing with World War II. The novel focuses on the steelworkers' attempt to unionize from 1889, the first Homestead strike (mentioned by Andrej on p. 38) through the big Homestead Steel Strike of 1892, the Great Steel Strike of 1919 right after World War I, and the events of the 1930s (Labor Organizing). A common connection of struggle, poverty, and entire need of the characters of forces out of their control come together to tell a story of a tragic depiction of a truly troubled group of people. Shared with unbearable financial adversity, the Slovaks nicknamed "Hunkies" were also exposed to discrimination by other "Americans." The novel's title refers to the central role of the steel mill in the family's life and in the history of the Pittsburgh region.
Long out of print, the novel was rediscovered in the 1970s by David P. Demarest, a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon University, who convinced director Frederick A. Hetzel at the University of Pittsburgh Press to reissue it in 1976. The book quickly became a regional bestseller. By the 1980s, however, it found an even larger readership on American college campuses. Out of This Furnace is regularly used as required reading in universities to introduce students to the history of immigration, industrialization, and the rise of trade unionism, as well as to the genre of the American working class novel.