The Novel: An Introduction
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And yet, Kafka. I would be super happy to see a genealogy that did not rely so heavily on the Euro-American canon, including its minor figures. NA: I can't say exactly when, much less why, I stopped imagining literary history as a discourse that claims to march forward irreversibly in time. I do know that it was about the same time that I became aware of a tendency I shared with my best students and closest colleagues. I was always getting sucked into the novel's drive for freedom from generic restrictions, or whatever and thus becoming subject to its emotional undertow: Reber's expanded definition of laissez-faire?
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Have the limits of the literary institution prompted novel criticism and theory to revise its historical and generic categories? Are you suggesting that by way of taking me to task for my thing with Kafka? JM: I think this is spot-on and invokes the question of politics I posed earlier. I would love to place the burden for this tendency of contemporary literary criticism on the novel form, although I hesitate to make us the victims of a plot from which we too might someday be free. I've always preferred formulations in which the question of freedom is less absolute, and I think that I've received a good deal of help in thinking about that from novels.
I'll spare you my inclination to rattle off a list of novels that forgo absolutist terms for thinking about being free and being governed. Instead, let me ask you whether you think of this as primarily an aesthetic effect or a question of plot, to the extent that you'd be willing to differentiate between these two.
Fancy experimental novels are freer? Or is this a problem about the stories that novels tell?
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NA: You certainly weaseled out of my previous question, but since you asked: for me the evidence suggests otherwise. I find Nathan K. JM: Although these essays show how freedom functions as a lure, they do not appear interested in reinscribing it as a goal. I understand these essays as not particularly nostalgic for any pre-neoliberalism. It can seem as if the contemporary novel is more like a diagnostic tool than a fount of actionable information or a repository of instructions for conduct.
I am not at all sure that our contributors are happy about that job description for the novel, however, and a look at their conclusions suggests cravings for other options. Vaughn Rasberry's essay is the perfect bookend for the collection, in part because of where he winds up: confirming via a reading of Francis Spufford's Red Plenty that the novel makes the past available as a resource. I do not interpret this as a trick on his part so much as a confirmation: there are more interesting lost causes than liberalism's version of freedom buried in the garbage dump of history for novels to dig up.
Those readers who are keen to clarify these questions or redirect them in a way that would move the conversation forward should email commentary to novel. Please identify precisely where you would like to insert your comment and include your name and affiliation. Appropriate responses will be posted along with this introduction on the Novel website, novel.
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laregidu.tkG AND INTRODUCTION OF THE NOVEL THE INVISIBLE MAN |
Sign In. Article Navigation. Introduction August 01 John Marx John Marx. This Site. Nancy Armstrong Nancy Armstrong. Novel 51 2 : Google Scholar. Search ADS. This content is made freely available by the publisher. It may not be redistributed or altered. All rights reserved.
Issue Section:. Volume 51, Issue 2. Works Cited. Next Article. View Metrics. Citing articles via Google Scholar. The first wholly deleterious was escapist. The novel, like gin, was the shortest way out of Manchester, or wherever. On its wings, little Wellsian people, leading their little lives, could drug themselves into accepting those little lives. The mill-girl, dosing herself with regular drams of romance from Peg's Paper, or the Kippsian counter-jumper with a "shilling shocker" stuck in his hip pocket was the image associated with this fiction.
Critical sneer was the approved dismissive technique. There was, however, another worthier kind of fiction which offered engagement, not escape from the real world. These novels lent readers the relatively few capable of profiting from the loan the privilege of sharing a superior sensibility: seeing the real world through other eyes which rendered the world more, not less, real.
The trick was to separate one kind of novel from the other. The faculty required, for this operation, was "discrimination". The critical razor, applied to the mass, could find the vein of gold among the mountainous dross. Famously the Leavises, with whom this harsh doctrine is principally associated, found room on their bookshelves for only a yard or two of truly worthwhile works together with the yard or two of their own - justifying the first yard.
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The avatar was DH Lawrence. The stricter sect of Leavisites held to the belief that after Lawrence, there was nothing.
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The rim of the fictional universe had been reached with Women in Love. It was an intellectually gratifying, and highly economic doctrine, but radically ungenerous. Those who, like myself, were subjected to it in the decades that its parsimony dominated university study of fiction felt that it left one culturally airless. There was all that activity, elsewhere, which one was prohibited from even thinking about. In recent years more relaxed, and intellectually curious academic disciplines notably literary sociology, and media studies have widened the gate from its Leavisian straitness.
I have even read answers on Jackie Collins in finals papers, and many, many dissertations on graphic fiction. Neil Gaiman is now scrutinised as rigorously as was once the artist-prophet of Eastwood. But the big questions remain. Why so many novels? How should we can we deal with them?
Why do we need them? And, if we need them, how do we make the necessary moves so as to invest our reading time wisely. There are, I think, no easy answers. My own view is that with the rise of the novel as Ian Watt memorably called it in the eighteenth century, human consciousness was as revolutionised as it was by Watt and steam power, by the Reform Act and the extension of the franchise, or even to be personal by the Higher Education Robbins Report. With mass access to fiction it became legitimate for any literate persons, of any class, to fantasise infinite possibilities, and to feed those possibilities back into their own lives.
That life became larger and more potential. Making the right choices, however, as in all other defining areas of life remains life's most difficult thing. Not least, I would argue, with the novels one chooses as companions along the way. Topics Reference and languages books. Here, the historical development of the modern European novel is traced. The terms "fact" and "fiction" are explained, and told fiction, illusion and narrated realism be delineated. The diversity of types of novels is outlined. The introduction to novel analysis is given. Topics in this chapter are the "narrative time", that is, the approximate time required for the reader to read the novel, and the " telling time ", i.
Furthermore, the "order", the sequence of narrated events - either natural succession or sequence anachronism prolepsis , i. Finally, the importance of using different tempi is elaborated. With examples, Bode analyzes and documents character design and character development in the novel; "figure" means in the broadest sense: a person, a protagonist , a being. This chapter — with more than a quarter of the book the longest — two models of narrative theory, the typological model of Franz K.
This chapter covers aspects and interpretations of multi-perspective narration. It discusses the difficulty to objectively recognize "unreliable narration", that is, "If the reader has reasonable grounds to distrust a tale".