Chapter

The Novel in Wonderland

Joseph Frank

in Responses to Modernity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239252
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239290 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239252.003.0016
The Novel in Wonderland

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We have come, in our time, to take the novel so much for granted as a dominant literary form that we tend to forget how recent has been its rise to prominence. Only in the eighteenth century did the novel begin to replace older genres, such as poetry and the drama, in popularity and importance; and only since the first quarter of the nineteenth century have we had any criticism of the novel worthy of its name. Until that time, novels had been written against a background of centuries of critical neglect. One reason was that, in the past, the novel was seen primarily as a popular form, read for entertainment and relaxation rather than for instruction and enlightenment. Two books, Ioan Williams's The Idea of the Novel in Europe, 1600–1800 and Patricia Drechsel Tobin's Time and the Novel: The Genealogical Imperative, both attempt to widen the present horizon of critical inquiry. The last quarter of the seventeenth century saw the abrupt end of the reign of heroic romance, and the rise of a new form called the nouvelle.

Keywords: novels; Ioan Williams; Patricia Drechsel Tobin; critical inquiry; nouvelle; Europe

Chapter.  5627 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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