The Novel, Volume 1: History, Geography, and Culture
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Nearly as global in its ambition and sweep as its subject, Franco Moretti's The Novel is a watershed event in the understanding of the first truly planetary literary form. A translated selection from the epic five-volume Italian Il Romanzo (2001-2003), The Novel's two volumes are a unified multiauthored reference work, containing more than one hundred specially commissioned essays by leading contemporary critics from around the world. Providing the first international comparative reassessment of the novel, these essential volumes reveal the form in unprecedented depth and breadth--as a great cultural, social, and human phenomenon that stretches from the ancient Greeks to today, where modernity itself is unimaginable without the genre.
By viewing the novel as much more than an aesthetic form, this landmark collection demonstrates how the genre has transformed human emotions and behavior, and the very perception of reality. Historical, statistical, and formal analyses show the novel as a complex literary system, in which new forms proliferate in every period and place.
Volume 1: History, Geography, and Culture, looks at the novel mostly from the outside, treating the transition from oral to written storytelling and the rise of narrative and fictionality, and covering the ancient Greek novel, the novel in premodern China, the early Spanish novel, and much else, including readings of novels from around the world.
These books will be essential reading for all students and scholars of literature.
causal chain to which sensations are subject gives the product of fantasy a peculiarity that would be developed dramatically once it surpassed the secondary state to which it was relegated by ancient thought. The passage that Caston disdains, in fact, closes Aristotle’s chapter on the history of the imagination: “Because imaginations remain in the organs of sense and resemble sensations, animals in their actions are largely guided by them, some (i.e., the brutes) because of the non-existence in
is taken from “Ne aemuli carpant Facetiarum opus propter eloquentiae tenuitatem,” the preface to Poggio Bracciolini, Facezie, ed. Eugenio Garin and Marcello Ciccuto (Milan: Rizzoli, 1983). SITI The Novel on Trial 101 shown in eighteenth-century epistolary novels to preserving the linguistic imperfections of the sender. “Clamorous and romantic advertising is a dangerous suggestion to weak or weakened spirits. I have said the same for pairings of passionate tragedies.” In this January 1926
obscenity) and the individual judicial proceedings that depend on the vagaries of tolerance, the chief accusation against the novel is that it is a waste of time. Heidegger was particularly acrimonious: “Like hornets, which respond to having their wings plucked out by devouring those of the other hornets, novelists squander ignobly the reader’s precious time.”35 In other words, novels waste one’s time because the novelists themselves wasted theirs in writing them. If time helps to produce wealth
illness and medicine, the novel finds an abiding compromise in reasonable constructions of the “verisimilar”; in the period of greatest splendor, between Austen and Dostoyevsky, the world of the novel is one in which the reader can believe but at the same time it is the whole universe of that in which one can believe. In other words, it restores back a reassuring image of the world, produced by a class with growing self-recognition and a growing tendency to relegate the bizarre to a higher or
after Lancelot, is convinced that the queen is not guilty. This suspicion is insinuated throughout this society, which purports to be perfectly exemplary. They are all aware of the clamorous contradiction, which I will paraphrase in the words of Guenevere: “Our Lord pays no heed to our courtly ways, and a person whom the world sees as good is wicked to God” (Lancelot-Grail, 2:275). This means that there are two orders of values, courtly and religious: they are not homologous but rather