The Novel: An Introduction

The Novel: An Introduction

The Novel: An Introduction

The Novel: An Introduction

Synopsis

This is an engaging introduction to the novel and narrative theory that will deepen readers' understanding and enhance their appreciation and enjoyment of this popular genre.
  • Provides readers with the critical tools to become expert narratologists and more insightful readers
  • Reflects on the rise of world literature, with examples drawn from Spanish, French, Italian, German, Scandinavian, and Russian novels for analysis or illustration, as well as works from English and American literature
  • Featured topics include the handling of space and time in the novel, narrative situations, literary symbols, and gendering

Excerpt

This volume is intended as a general introduction to the critical analysis of novels. One of its main aims is to help the reader to see that an analytical approach to the novel is not an end in itself, but can crucially deepen our understanding of the text and greatly intensify our reading experience.

True, the claim is frequently made that every good literary text can only gain from thorough analysis – yet it seems to me that this is nevertheless experienced all too rarely. And that might have something to do with the fact that readers too seldom grasp the purpose of identifying this or that narrative technique. Students perform such analysis because it is required for seminar presentations, essays, and exams: what it’s actually good for all too often remains obscure. So they just go through the motions – disposing of it as a matter of form, because it is required. But where the meaning of a procedure is not grasped, any new acquisition of knowledge or flash of insight can only occur by accident. So students run into a vicious circle, not knowing why they’re doing what they’re doing, and for that very reason unlikely ever to find out why.

This book aims to provide a remedy to this problem, in that it constantly foregrounds the consequences that follow when, in a particular novel, this rather than that narrative situation dominates; when the narrative is compressed here but stretched out there; when the traits of one fictional character are brought out using one technique, others differently, and so on. As with so many other kinds of investigation, the guiding question and the alpha and omega of critical analysis is perhaps: what’s the difference? Or, to put the question more precisely: what would be the difference if the narrative structure of this novel were like that rather than like this? In what way would such a modification effect a change to the other parameters of “the same” text, which would then of course no longer remain “the same” text? To which other position would such a different text ascribe its reader? And what can we therefore say about the novel as it actually lies before us? What . . .

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