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  • Justin McNeil reviews Steven Moore's The Novel: An Alternative History, Beginnings to 1600 over at bombsite:

    Critics are the private detectives of the book world. They're out there right now -- reading with red-rimmed eyes and waiting for the next playful transgressor to arrive -- like say, George Perec, who tried to slip a whole book by without using the letter "e." Enter book-detective Steven Moore, Moore is like the detective with every crime in a file and a soft spot for the outre, the ludicrous, the lusty, and the unique. This new book is Moore giving us a peek at his dossier of notes and the vast terrain of his musings on the origins of the novel.

    The Novel: an Alternative History, Beginnings to 1600 is the first part of Moore's complete history of the prose narrative. Think of it as B.D.Q., or Before Don Quixote. It represents everything Moore could cram into a book up to 1600, which is traditionally the point at which critics place the novel's beginnings. Moore's task encompasses the literature of the Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Sanskrit, Chinese, Old French, and Icelandic- speaking worlds, among others. Before we go too far into the shadow of history, note that Moore is a confessed lover of 20th century fiction, so what might be seen as antique by another is surveyed here with a hyper-modern eye (more...)

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