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The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800 Hardcover – 10 Oct 2013

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (10 Oct. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 144118869X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441188694
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 7.1 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 817,872 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Moore's survey is splendidly comprehensive and shows a true passion for his subject[...] Moore tells his story with erudition and wit, and in doing so restores to the reader of good fiction confidence in the craft. Ultimately, Moore's book is less a genealogical history of the novel than a reader's treasure trove. --The Washington Post

Steven Moore's recent encyclopedic study, The Novel: An Alternative History...dramatically amplifies our understanding of what the novel can and cannot do, and highlights living currents that sprang into existence 40 centuries ago and continue to flow into the contemporary novel. --The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Steven Moore (Ph.D. Rutgers, 1988) is the author of several books including The Novel: An Alternative History, Beginnings to 1600. From 1988-96 he was managing editor of the Review of Contemporary Fiction and for decades he has reviewed books for a variety of journals and newspapers. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So he's no scholar, so what? True, its nothing like The Novel by Michael Schmidt (who is a scholar) - and his bias against continental philosophy is unreasoned and unreasonable - but its the polemic that counts! Somebody needed to raise this flag and Steven Moore has done so
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4 reviews
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
MONUMENTAL 8 Sept. 2013
By reader from Newton - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a book more to be savored rather than devoured; I can only hope that the pace at which I am reading it strikes a happy medium between the two extremes.

Moore has presented a menu for novel lovers--a witty and informative text; a scrupulously annotated reading list for a leisurely retirement or a grandly ambitious autodidact.

What's good about this book and his previous volume is that he manages to engage the reader's interest in books which it is likely they have never read. Furthermore, his judgment seems eminently sound when discussing less abstruse texts. In particular, I find myself in full agreement with his assessment of Don Quixote as both a postmodernist text and a rattlebag of authorial out-takes.

I am already anticipating volume three. I am certain it will be well worth the wait.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Forget what you think you already know about the "novel" 27 July 2014
By Book Maverick - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Remarkably readable and a quite useful resource in all respects, Moore's massive undertaking is an excellent corrective to the myopia afflicting contemporary schools of literary studies, both the interpretive and the theoretical. In effect, Moore is stating that it is time for simplistic national and provincial attitudes toward literary art to cede the ground in favor of a global complexity. Somebody should give this guy an endowed chair, a bevy of grad student assistants, and encourage him to write the story of 1800-2000.
10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
No Volume 3 Planned 27 May 2014
By Adam Parker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A word of warning to those thinking of buying this 2nd volume - or the 1st - in the hope that this series will continue from 1800 to the present day: according to the author, no further volumes are planned.

In an excellent interview by Music and Literature quoted below, and cited on the author's webpage, Moore explains why:

"'All passion spent,' as Milton says. After completing volume two, I felt like I had completed a decathlon: totally exhausted, both physically and mentally, which is the main reason I decided not to continue. I also realized I had bitten off more than I could chew: when I began, I didn't know what I was letting myself in for--'fools rush in...' etc.--and both volumes were considerably longer than I anticipated. But I have a clear idea of what a third volume would entail, and it's overwhelming. It would mean at least another five years of daily, concentrated work, and I just don't feel up to it. (There are mundane, personal reasons as well: my typing is deteriorating, concentration shortening, mind wandering, confidence drooping, memory fading...) In fact, I've lost interest in writing criticism in general, except for the occasional book review. Even a shorter book on 1800-1900 or on contemporary fiction doesn't appeal to me.

I overdosed on writing, and want to stay in rehab from here on out. Besides, I feel I've defended my original thesis: i.e., that experimental fiction is not a twentieth-century "aberration" but has always existed. It's the pre-1800 period that needed exposure, especially the Near Eastern and Far Eastern sections of my books, of which I am particularly proud, but which I suspect many of my readers skip!"

To the author's credit, he feels that his knowledge of contemporary writing is not as vast as to add value to the next stage in the interpretation of the novel, and personally, that is a shame. For like another excellent tome: "The Novel: A Biography" by Michael Schmidt, there is comfort in taking a journey from past to present: though Moore in volume 1, does step back farther.

Moore does make a no holds barred mention of funding difficulties in the preface to this 2nd book. Whether this was sufficient to demotivate future enthusiasm is unknown. But his allusion to "confidence drooping" is indicative.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A Book about Books That's Also a Great Book! 1 Dec. 2013
By kevin lause - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Steven Moore teaches without being pedantic and entertains without pandering.
Best of all, he leaves us eager to read the next volume. (If there was a Kickstarter to allow him to write unimpeded by Worldly Concerns...only Wordy Ones, heh,heh...I'd contribute!) Meanwhile, I can read some of the books he's awakened for me.
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