In the Company of Strangers: Family and Narrative in Dickens, Conan Doyle, Joyce, and Proust

In the Company of Strangers: Family and Narrative in Dickens, Conan Doyle, Joyce, and Proust

by Barry McCrea
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

In the Company of Strangers shows how a reconception of family and kinship underlies the revolutionary experiments of the modernist novel. While stories of marriage and long-lost relatives were a mainstay of classic Victorian fiction, Barry McCrea suggests that rival countercurrents within these family plots set the stage for the formal innovations of Joyce

Overview

In the Company of Strangers shows how a reconception of family and kinship underlies the revolutionary experiments of the modernist novel. While stories of marriage and long-lost relatives were a mainstay of classic Victorian fiction, Barry McCrea suggests that rival countercurrents within these family plots set the stage for the formal innovations of Joyce and Proust. Tracing the challenges to the family plot mounted by figures such as Fagin, Sherlock Holmes, Leopold Bloom, and Charles Swann, McCrea tells the story of how bonds generated by chance encounters between strangers come to take over the role of organizing narrative time and give shape to fictional worlds—a task and power that was once the preserve of the genealogical family. By investigating how the question of family is a hidden key to modernist structure and style, In the Company of Strangers explores the formal narrative potential of queerness and in doing so rewrites the history of the modern novel.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

McCrea has considered every alternative in cutting his own path from Dickens and Conan Doyle to Joyce and Proust. He mounts a sustained attack on the prevailing tendency to read these novelists as if the only form possible were the reestablishment of family genealogy. His simple—but absolutely brilliant—purpose is to give form to what, from the blinkered perspective of the family, seems to be formless.

In this stylish and intelligent work, McCrea offers a vision of something like the end of the Victorian family not as a social reality, since it is still with us, but as the imaginative heart of the good society. The modern novel as a genre, it turns out, reveals riches of queer metaphorical kinship that kinship doesn't know.

In this transformative account, McCrea shows how the stranger becomes a foundational figure, the random encounter the foundational event for the modern novel, prompting and justifying its formal innovations. The modernist embrace of non-genealogical forms of human connection is the great story recounted in this book, an exhilarating, utterly original, and moving work.

Irish Times - Eibhear Walshe

McCrea's work, original, well considered and detailed, offers fresh insight into vital, complex texts and brings queer theory usefully into contemporary debate when reconsidering such influential works.

Victorian Studies

Elegant... I recommend In the Company of Strangers both for its clarity, readability, and sophistication and for bringing to bear on Victorian texts important new insights from the burgeoning field of queer narratology.

James Joyce Quarterly

In the company of Strangers is an excellent book... McCrea's study is a must-read for those interested in narratology, Victorian and modernist prose fiction, queer theory, and the works of the novelists, including Joyce, under consideration, which are treated with sensitivity and intelligence.

Irish Times
McCrea's work, original, well considered and detailed, offers fresh insight into vital, complex texts and brings queer theory usefully into contemporary debate when reconsidering such influential works.

— Eibhear Walshe

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231157636
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/14/2011
Series:
Modernist Latitudes Series
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

McCrea makes an important argument about the novel that has not been made before, namely, that the form, rather than the content, of the modern novel bodies forth new, non-genealogical family structures. To read it is to experience literary criticism at its very best. McCrea's discussions give one a sense of having reread an author with new sensitivity and depth; they immerse the reader in McCrea's rich, energetic prose. This is an exceptionally mature, original work.

Meet the Author

Barry McCrea is associate professor of comparative literature and English at Yale University and author of a novel, The First Verse.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >