The Novel in Theory, 1900–1965

Baldick, Chris. 2015. The Novel in Theory, 1900–1965. In: Stephen Arata; Madigan Haley; J. Paul Hunter and Jennifer Wicke, eds. A Companion to the English Novel. London: Wiley, pp. 256-270. ISBN 9781405194457 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

Novel theory in the early twentieth century is at first shaped by Henry James's aspiration to an artistically consistent “point of view,” repudiated by H. G. Wells and E. M. Forster in the name of Life, but defended in Percy Lubbock's The Craft of Fiction. Discussion of novelistic method was suspended in the 1930s and 1940s in favor of evaluative criticism that treated the novel as a kind of dramatic poem, notably in F. R. Leavis's work. The full emergence of academic analysis of novels in the 1950s brought a revival, best represented by Wayne C. Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction, with its unpicking of the Jamesian contrast between showing and telling and its discrimination among kinds of narrator.

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Book Section

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English and Comparative Literature


20 May 2015Published
3 July 2015Published Online

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16 Nov 2018 12:51

Last Modified:

11 Mar 2021 17:53


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