Gender and Genre in Novels Without End: The British Roman-Fleuve

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9780813014029: Gender and Genre in Novels Without End: The British Roman-Fleuve

"Fresh, strong, and engaging. . . . The combination of narratology, reader-response, and feminist approaches realizes the complexity and complications of characterization, narrative voice, plot, and closure in these novels and in the roman-fleuve. . . . Brings into focus the . . . sub-genre in relation to the novel in general while at the same time presenting insightful analyses of particular examples of such texts."--Kathryn N. Benzel, University of Nebraska, Kearney

This is the first substantive study of the roman-fleuve--the multivolume sequence novel--as a distinctive genre.  Though Lynette Felber finds these "novels without end" to be "the ultimate pleasurable text," prolonging a moment of Keatsian arrested passion, she claims they have fallen between the cracks of the popular and the canonical novel.
 Tracing the roman-fleuve through three periods of history, she examines three British serial works that were to some degree innovative and experimental: Anthony Trollope's Palliser novels (1864-80), Dorothy Richardson's Pilgrimage (1915-38), and Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time (1951-75).
 Felber argues that the roman-fleuve has an inherent propensity for "an écriture féminine, a writing with narrative features designated feminine."  She acknowledges that the French theorists with whom she is aligned define formal features of writing in sexual terms.  Certain to be controversial to some feminists, her argument places her in the heart of the essentialism-constructionism debate.
 While some critics might find the length of the genre an impediment to critical acceptance, Felber claims that it is the perception of this form as a feminine genre that has had a detrimental effect on its status.  She finds that the massive roman-fleuve, damned by its refusal to meet conventional expectations and by its association with a feminine discourse, reveals the prejudice of the marketplace and the literary establishment. 
 


Lynette Felber is associate professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University in Fort Wayne.  She is general editor of CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and Philosophy of History and the author of many book chapters and articles published in journals such as Mosaic, Genre, Frontiers, The Victorian Newsletter, and Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature.

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Lynette Felber
Published by University Press of Florida (1995)
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