14 August 2008

How Novels Work

Literary Theory of the academic kind led itself into a one-way, dead-end street in the latter decades of the last century. But traditional literary criticism has survived, largely because it preserved a connection with common sense; it didn't take itself too seriously; and it was more interested in literature than theory. John Mullan's guide to understanding novels belongs to this humanist tradition. It's based on articles he wrote for the cultural supplement to the Guardian. He seeks to examine how novels work by looking at examples of contemporary fiction whilst keeping in mind what we already know about classics. He does this by focusing on some of the most fundamental parts of the novel - its title for instance, how its story is told, its characters created, its style, and even how it ends... Read more >>


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