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The Art of Fiction Paperback – 7 Apr 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099554240
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099554240
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Exciting...a book for starting up trains of thought or discussion... It did make me think, as a writer, as a reader, as a teacher" (AS Byatt Sunday Times)

"Here is scholarship made human... There has been no better populist study of fiction since Forster's Aspects of the Novel" (Financial Times)

"It is wonderful to be clued in to some of the magic tricks of the trade; the point of view, the stream of consciousness, the use of names, the sense of place, time-shift and intertextuality" (Los Angeles Times)

"Lodge has the knack of wearing his scholarship lightly... One finds here precisely that expansive, humane wisdom which is so sorely lacking in much narrow-minded modern criticism.... He gets to the bottom of things, telling us why we read fiction....admirers will find in The Art of Fiction concentrated essence of Lodge" (Guardian)

"These essays are as fresh and as readable as ever" (David Evans Independent)

Book Description

A collection of David Lodge's articles from the Independent on Sunday and the Washington Post

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
This collection of essays represents an understated and friendly guide. Thorough but accessible, Lodge has written a readable journey into the ways in which texts can be read. Although neither as challenging nor thought-provoking as more academic volumes on 'ways of reading', The Art of Fiction has the brevity and lightness of touch that makes it an excellent starting point for those interested in fiction in all its forms, and for those who want to indulge in the magical variety of classic and contemporary fiction.
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"The Art of Fiction" is divided into 50 chapters, each devoted to a different aspect or theme in fiction (in this case primarily novel-writing). Some of these themes are standard topics: 'Beginning', 'Point of View', 'Introducing a Character', 'Chapters' and 'Ending' for example. Others are more unusual: including 'Suspense', 'Symbolism', 'Epiphany', 'The Telephone' as well as more technical-sounding topics such as 'Aporia' and 'Intertextuality'. Through these themes Lodge explores the construction of the novel and underlines the sheer variety of approaches taken by different writers over the course of time.

Each chapter is drawn from an article in Lodge's own newspaper column, which means that the subject matter is easily accessible and digestible for the casual reader. Lodge's style is easy to read and follow and he occasionally intersperses his analysis with his own anecdotes. This is 'a book to browse in, and dip into', as Lodge himself explains, which assumes very little prior knowledge of the texts concerned. Indeed his subjects are very diverse, ranging from Henry Fielding in the 18th century, and Victorian writers such as Brontë and Dickens, all the way to 20th-century authors including, among many others, George Orwell and Kazuo Ishiguro. However, it is not necessary to have read all - or even any - of these texts, as Lodge begins each chapter with a relevant passage quoted in full to illustrate his point.

The goal of "The Art of Fiction" is to enhance the reader's understanding of modern literature, and not explicitly to teach lessons in composition to aspiring authors. Nevertheless, for any writer it is always instructive to dissect those works which have gone before, and this book would therefore be of tremendous use.

Everything considered, "The Art of Fiction" is a worthy addition to the bookshelf of anyone with an interest in deconstructing how modern fiction works - either the casual reader or the student. Recommended.
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Format: Paperback
As an aspiring novelist I can highly recommend this book. In fifty chapters David Lodge explains pretty much everything you need to know to gain a deeper insight into reading literature. I have read further than this book, such as I.A. Richard's Principles of Literary Criticism and Jonathan Culler's works on literary theory and literary criticism but Lodge's more modest work still has pride of place on my bookshelf next to these other giants.
So many critics seem to know the way but are unable to drive.
With Lodge this is not a problem as he is both a critically acclaimed author and a respected academic. As a result he is able to offer an insight into literature from within and without. The only criticism I have, and it is a very small one, is that he only comments on English and American literature because he specialises in these fields of literature. Something he admits to in the introduction. But this is largely unimportant considering the wealth of English and American literature.
Whether you are a student of literature, an aspiring writer, or simply someone who wishes to better understand what you read then this is a book to start with as it is refreshingly free of pretentiousness.
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This is one of the best introductions to understanding fiction - particularly the novel - that I've read. It's particularly suitable for someone without any background in the arts. It's divided into 50 short chapters, each beginning with a short extract that provides the basis for discussion for what follows. It covers topics such as division into chapters, symbolism, voice, and just about everything you ever needed to know. It is clearly written without any of the pretension and unnecessary difficulty that often dogs the area. Highly recommended.
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The collection of articles in David Lodge's book, The Art of Fiction, first appeared in The Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post. I don't read either of these newspapers so I was not aware of these wonderful gems until I stumbled on the book. In the completive world of publishing there are many popular books available about literary appreciation but amongst the few that I have read this is perhaps the best of them.

Not unique by any means, what Lodge does is to take a broad rage of literary excerpts and analyse them using a number of literary concepts, some well known and others not, in order to reveal how the art of fiction works. The excerpts range from the eighteenth century right up to the late twentieth century. The concepts or ideas Lodge uses are as simple as beginning, and the intrusive author right through to the more academic such as defamiliarization and intertextuality.

Many books of this type that purports to enlighten the reader about how something works or how to appreciate the novel, poetry or for that matter films have a tendency to fail. They get bog down with detail and soon become obtuse and opaque. So in reading Lodge's book does one get a sense of what the art of fiction is about? The short answer is yes. What Lodge does very well is to show how the writer, whether intentional or not, uses certain rhetorical devices to gain certain effect or achieve his or her aim. For example, the opening section of the book clearly shows how Jane Austen and Ford Madox Ford engage the reader by their first sentences and opening paragraphs.

Do not be misguided by the articles' length into thinking that they lack dept of analysis.
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