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True Story of the Novel, The

Doody, Margaret Anne

24 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0813521688 / ISBN 13: 9780813521688
Published by Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, 1996
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

580 pages. Hardcover with dust jacket. Soiling on corners, otherwise clean, unmarked copy with only minor wear to dust jacket. Record # 58258. Bookseller Inventory # 58258

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Bibliographic Details

Title: True Story of the Novel, The

Publisher: Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick

Publication Date: 1996

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Twentieth-century historians and critics defending the novel have emphasized its role as superseding something else, as a sort of legitimate usurper that deposed the Epic, a replacement of myth, or religious narrative. To say that the Age of Early Christianity was really also the Age of the Novel rumples such historical tidiness––but so it was. From the outset of her discussion, Doody rejects the conventional Anglo-Saxon distinction between Romance and Novel. This eighteenth-century distinction, she maintains, served both to keep the foreign––dark-skinned peoples, strange speakers, Muslims, and others––largely out of literature, and to obscure the diverse nature of the novel itself.

This deeply informed and truly comparative work is staggering in its breadth. Doody treats not only recognized classics, but also works of usually unacknowledged subgenres––new readings of novels like The Pickwick Papers, Puddn’head Wilson, L’Assommoir, Death in Venice, and Beloved  are accompanied by insights into Death on the Nile or The Wind in the Willows. Non-Western writers like Chinua Achebe and Witi Ihimaera are also included. In her last section, Doody goes on to show that Chinese and Japanese novels, early and late, bear a strong and not incidental affinity to their Western counterparts. Collectively, these readings offer the basis for a serious reassessment of the history and the nature of the novel.

The True Story of the Novel marks the beginning of the twenty-first century’s understanding of fiction and of culture. It is essential reading for anyone with an interest in literature.

 

Review:

Margaret Anne Doody has undertaken an ambitious project: the complete study of the evolution of the novel. Doody, who runs a comparative studies program at Vanderbilt University, traces the origins of the form from prehistoric times through Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In addition to its comprehensiveness, its soundness, and its intelligent, authoritative voice, the value of the work is in its contention that the English didn't invent the novel. ":One of the most successful literary lies," she says, "is that the English claim to have invented the novel." Her contention borders on revolutionary in the field, and it should set some minds free. She refers to the debunking of this convention in literature as "leaping over a paddock fence and escaping into a larger space."

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Monroe Street Books. Owners: Richard and Flanzy Chodkowski. Mailing address: Monroe Street Books, 70 Monroe Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Store Located at: 1485 Route 7 North, Middlebury, Vermont 05753 USA. Phone: 1-802-398-2200 Email: books@monroestreetbooks.com
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