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The Novel: An Alternative History Hardcover – 15 Jun 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Continuum (15 Jun. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441177043
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441177049
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 5.2 x 25.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,521,805 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Everything we know about the origins of the novel is wrong. The novel did not spring from the minds of eighteenth-century English writers, nor did Cervantes invent it. Instead, the novel coalesced in the Mediterranean in the fourteenth century with Greek romances and Latin satires. And writers were creating experimental, internalized, mischievous, and wildly imaginative novels centuries before James Joyce. In his zestfully encyclopedic, avidly opinionated, and dazzlingly fresh history of the most elastic of literary forms, Moore shares his discoveries of ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Christian fiction and analyzes with unflagging enthusiasm the novels of medieval and Renaissance Europe, followed by deep readings of Indian, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, Japanese, and Chinese fiction. Reveling in the most innovative and daring creations, Moore energetically evaluates tales fantastic, chilling, hilarious, erotic, and tragic, comparing centuries-old novels to those of Barth, Gaddis, Pynchon, and Vollmann. Destined for controversy, Moore s erudite, gargantuan, kaleidoscopic, and venturesome alternative history will leave readers feeling as though they ve been viewing literature with blinders on. --Booklist

Steven Moore, a former managing editor of the Review of Contemporary Fiction, has attempted to trace the roots of the modern novel to the first stories told around campfires in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Moore's survey is splendidly comprehensive and shows a true passion for his subject. Ranging from those early ancestors to the classics of Asian fiction, from the love stories of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the philosophical fables of the Enlightenment, and well into our time, the book displays Moore's impressive knowledge of the world of make-believe. [...] 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. --Washington Post, Sunday 22nd August 2010

Good humour to be found in every paragraph. If he s not careful, this man could give scholarship a good name --South Belfast News, 7th August 2010

A gigantic literary safari ... Moore is incredibly knowledgeable and provides us witha long list of examples of literature from early Assyrian stories through ancient Hebrew and Greek fiction, to medieval and Renaissance narratives. --Morning Star

Every now and then a work of general interest on literature, written for a non-specialized audience but filled with citations, comes along that, due to its brashness, perspective, or style re-opens arguments considered settled, inviting us to look anew at this or that subject. In extreme cases it can even encourage us to toss out what we ve been taught. For obvious reasons this can arouse hostility in traditional-minded critics and reviewers. Steven Moore s The Novel: An Alternate History is such a book.[...] Those wanting to discover new old books, or to read a vigorous refutation of a broken and useless idea of when the novel began written in a breezy, informative, style, will find The Novel an essential work. It belongs in personal, community and university libraries --The Quarterly Conversation

About the Author

Steven Moore (Ph.D. Rutgers, 1988) is the author of several books and essays on modern literature. From 1988 to 1996 he was managing editor of the Review of Contemporary Fiction/Dalkey Archive Press, and for decades has reviewed books for a variety of journals and newspapers, principally the Washington Post. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where is he is working on the next installment of this history.

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