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Reading the Eighteenth-century Novel - Reading the Novel (Hardback)Paula R. Backscheider (author)
Hardback 272 Pages / Published: 12/11/2001
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Main blurb (for internal use only - CHECK BEFORE USING IN PRINTED PUBLICITY):The first English novelists turned to writing long prose fictions for a variety of reasons, some of which are not usually associated with the "mainline" Anglo-American novel today. Among them were political agitation, social protest, and moral reform. This chapter introduces the reader to the discourses out of which these fictions were created and to some of the theories about the cultural forces that lie behind the shaping of a distinctively new literary form. Backscheider begins to discuss a major theme in the book: writer's experimentation with how the novel can participate in social processes and debates. From its inception spirited controversies erupted over what fiction does, what kinds of truth claims it can legitimately make, and how it affects readers' emotions and actions. Therefore, the creation of the novel will be presented with attention to the ways readers participated in deciding what "a novel" would be.Samuel Johnson once said of one of the century's greatest novels that a reader would hang himself if he read it for the plot. That quotation eloquently alerts us to the differences between eighteenth-century fiction and our "consumable" narratives with their emphasis on "how does it end?" This chapter will play with the differences, often using metaphors drawn from a variety of domains to help modern readers enjoy the unusual pleasures of eighteenth-century novels. For example, rather than reading for tight plotting and the ending, many novels should be read as boxing matches or ballets are watched-- with attention to subtle variations, incrementally developing techniques, and thematic strategies. From the beginning, digressions and doubled (or tripled) plots were common, and they, too, are often puzzling or frustrating to today's readers. Perhaps most fascinating is the fact that the realist novel was not the mainline English novel at any time in the century. This chapter will introduce readers to the wide variety of modes, suggest some overarching reasons for the experimentation with mood and experience, and introduce the increasing interest in establishing the novel's literary and aesthetic potential. The reader, then, should find new pleasures in reading the eighteenth-century novel.
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Ltd
Number of pages: 272
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
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