Ian Watt: A Tribute

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:
Ian Watt: A Tribute

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Several years ago, a small California press published a volume of essays, The Literal Imagination, by Ian Watt. Collected posthumously (the author died in 1991), they attracted very little attention. Yet Watt had written a book, The Rise of the Novel, Studies in Defoe, Richardson, Fielding, which from the moment of its publication (1957) had been recognized as a major contribution to the study of the novel as a literary genre. It has never been out of print, and a new edition appeared in 2001. This work was followed by the first volume of an intended two-volume opus on Joseph Conrad, Conrad in the Nineteenth Century (1980), also immediately recognized as a distinguished addition to a subject already amply explored. Watt's last volume is a pioneering attempt to account for the elevation of certain literary figures—Robinson Crusoe, Faust, Don Quixote, Don Juan—to the status of mythical prototypes. He wrote one or two articles countering critics of The Rise of the Novel, the work arousing (and continuing to arouse) the most controversy.

Keywords: Ian Watt; Literal Imagination; Rise of Novel; novel; Joseph Conrad; Nineteenth Century; Robinson Crusoe

Chapter.  7213 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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