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Eighteenth-Century FictionMcKeon's dissections are often breathtaking... [his] anthology is solid, commandingly centered,... superbly energetic and uniquely powerful.
— Marshall Brown
Michael McKeon, author of The Origins of the English Novel, 1600-1740, here assembles a collection of influential essays on the theory of the novel. Carefully chosen selections from Frye, Benjamin, Lévi-Strauss, Lukács, Bakhtin, and other prominent theorists explore the historical significance of the novel as a genre, from its early beginnings to its modern variations in the postmodern novel and postcolonial novel.
Offering a generous selection of key theoretical texts for students and scholars alike, Theory of the Novel also presents a provocative argument for studying the genre. In his introduction to the volume and in headnotes to each section, McKeon argues that genre theory and history provide the best approach to understanding the novel. All the selections in this anthology date from the twentieth century—most from the last forty years—and represent the attempts of different theorists, and different theoretical schools, to describe the historical stages of the genre's formal development.
Johns Hopkins University Press
— Marshall Brown
— Gary Day
— Jonathan Lamb
— Ansgar Nünning Gießen
This is a richly stimulating volume, an invaluable resource and challenging intervention for all serious researchers into the novel.
McKeon's dissections are often breathtaking... [his] anthology is solid, commandingly centered,... superbly energetic and uniquely powerful.
As comprehensive an account of the genre as you could wish. What a marvelous collection and what a skillful editor McKeon is, marshalling the essays into an argument for the novel as a distinct 'literary historical genre' rather than as one element in a bland, all-embracing narrative theory... The outstanding feature of this fine collection is its firm commitment to the art of the novelist. Throughout, there is a profound recognition of the novel's ability to criticise the existing order, to create new and compelling worlds, to extend our grammar and enlarge our vocabulary for coping with the great dramas of life, love, death and the shoelace snapping when you are late for work.
The anthology provides not only a splendid guide to thinking about the novel, but also a useful warning against assuming that fiction is merely the instrument of those who wish to dampen revolution, forge national identities, and build empires.
This breathtaking comprehensive collection of essays... is an amazingly ambitious project... McKeon has provided us with an invaluable map of the theoretical and literary-historical landscape surrounding the origins, theories, and developments of the novel.
As a teaching text this anthology can hardly be bettered.
Contents and Contributors:
Part One: Genre TheoryNorthrop Frye, from Anatomy of Criticism: Four EssaysE. D. Hirsch, from Validity in InterpretationClaudio Guillén, from Literature as System: Essays toward the Theory of Literary HistoryJonathan Culler, "Toward a Theory of Non-Genre Literature"Marthe Robert, from Origins of the NovelPart Two: The Novel as Displacement I: StructuralismWalter Benjamin, "The Storyteller"Claude Lévi-Strauss, from The Savage Mind, from The Origin of Table Manners, "How Myths Die," from The Naked ManNorthrop Frye, from Anatomy of Criticism: Four Essays, from Fables of Identity: Studies in Poetic Mythology, from The Secular Scripture: A Study of the Structure of RomancePart Three: The Novel as Displacement II: PsychoanalysisSigmund Freud, from The Interpretation of Dreams, "Family Romances"Marthe Robert, from Origins of the NovelPart Four: Grand Theory IGeorg Lukács, from The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature, from The Historical NovelPart Five: Grand Theory IIJosé Ortega y Gasset, from Meditations on Quixote, "Notes on the Novel"Part Six: Grand Theory IIIMikhail M. Bakhtin, from The Dialogic Imagination: Four EssaysPart Seven: Revisionist Grand TheoryIan Watt, from The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and FieldingMichael McKeon, "Generic Transformation and Social Change: Rethinking the Rise of the Novel"Fredric Jameson, from The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic ActBenedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of NationalismPart Eight: Privacy, Domesticity, WomenIan Watt, from The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and FieldingNancy Armstrong, from Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the NovelGillian Brown, from Domestic Individualism: Imagining Self in Nineteenth-Century AmericaPart Nine: Subjectivity, Character, DevelopmentDorrit Cohn, from Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in FictionAnn Banfield, from Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of FictionAmélie Oksenberg Rorty, "Characters, Persons, Selves, Individuals"Franco Moretti, from The Way of the World: The Bildungsroman in European CultureClifford Siskin, from The Historicity of Romantic DiscoursePart Ten: RealismRosalind Coward and John Ellis, from Language and Materialism: Developments in Semiology and the Theory of the SubjectMichael McKeon, from "Prose Fiction: Great Britain"George Levine, from The Realistic Imagination: English Fiction from Frankenstein to Lady ChatterleyMichael Davitt Bell, from The Development of American RomancePart Eleven: Photography, Film, and the NovelHenry James, from "Preface to The Golden Bowl"Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction"Keith Cohen, Film and Fiction: The Dynamics of ExchangeAndré Bazin, "In Defense of Mixed Cinema"Part Twelve: ModernismVirginia Woolf, "Modern Fiction," "Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown"Georg Lukács, from Realism in Our Time: Literature and the Class StruggleJoseph Frank, from Spatial Form in Modern LiteraturePart Thirteen: The New Novel, the Postmodern NovelAlain Robbe-Grillet, from For a New Novel: Essays on FictionLinda Hutcheon, "Historiographic Metafiction"Part Fourteen: The Colonial and Postcolonial NovelDoris Sommer and George Yudice, "Latin American Literature from the 'Boom' On"Kwame Anthony Appiah, "Is the Post- in Postmodernism the Post- in Postcolonial?"Kumkum Sangari, "The Politics of the Possible"
Johns Hopkins University Press