The Novel: An Alternative History

The Novel: An Alternative History : Beginnings to 1600

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This is a comprehensive history - and controversial reappraisal - of the world's most popular and innovative literary form. Encyclopedic in scope and heroically audacious, "The Novel: An Alternative History" is the first attempt in over a century to tell the complete story of our most popular literary form. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the novel did not originate in 18th-century England, nor even with Don Quixote, but is coeval with civilization itself. After a pugnacious introduction, in which Moore defends innovative, demanding novelists against their conservative critics, the book relaxes into a world tour of the premodern novel, beginning in ancient Egypt and ending in 16th-century China, with many exotic ports-of-call: Greek romances; Roman satires; medieval Sanskrit novels narrated by parrots; Byzantine erotic thrillers; 5000-page Arabian adventure novels; Icelandic sagas; delicate Persian novels in verse; Japanese war stories; and even Mayan graphic novels. Throughout, Moore celebrates the innovators in fiction, tracing a continuum between these premodern experimentalists and their postmodern progeny. Irreverent, iconoclastic, informative, entertaining - "The Novel: An Alternative History" is a landmark in literary criticism that will encourage readers to rethink the more

Product details

  • Hardback | 704 pages
  • 162.56 x 236.22 x 55.88mm | 1,247.37g
  • Continuum Publishing Corporation
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1441177043
  • 9781441177049
  • 568,120

Review quote

"The Novel: An Alternative History is a breathtaking achievement. Steve Moore isn't just incredibly well read, he's also funny, irreverent, argumentative and sometimes even downright mean. There's nothing dryly academic about his magnificent book--it's as personal as a love affair and just as thrilling. Like Edmund Wilson, Hugh Kenner or Randall Jarrell, Moore writes with real stylish dash, yet backs up what he says with the authority that only comes from vast knowledge. Ancient Greek novels, classics of Asian fiction, medieval romances, Renaissance allegories, Victorian triple-deckers, postmodern experiments--Moore knows them all. For readers, the result isn't just a history of the novel, it's also one of the all-time great literary carnival rides." Michael Dirda, author of Classics for Pleasure and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism "Moore's range here is staggering. And the intelligence he brings to bear on his materials is awesome, from the subtlest of insights to the boldest of (seemingly always valid) judgments. Add to this Moore's wit, his lucid Orwellian prose, his ability to make a simple plot summary tingle with excitement, the infectious sense of sheer literary pleasure that bubbles through it all - if this isn't a critical masterpiece in the making, there ain't no such animal." David Markson, author of Wittgenstein's Mistress"show more

About Steven Moore

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 more

Table of contents

Introduction: The Novel Novel; Chapter 1: The Ancient Novel; Egyptian; Mesopotamian; Hebrew; Greek; Roman; Christian; Chapter 2: The Medieval Novel; Irish; Icelandic; Byzantine; Jewish; Arthurian; Chapter 3: The Renaissance Novel; Italian; Spanish; French; English; Bridge: The Mesoamerican Novel; Chapter 4: The Eastern Novel; Indian; Tibetan; Arabic; Persian; Chapter 5: The Far Eastern Novel; Japanese; Chinese; Bibliography; Chronological Index of Novels Discussed; General more