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The True Story of the Novel Hardcover – June 1, 1996
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Margaret Anne Doody has undertaken an ambitious project: the complete study of the evolution of the novel. Doody, who runs a comparative studies program at Vanderbilt University, traces the origins of the form from prehistoric times through Egypt, Greece, and Rome. In addition to its comprehensiveness, its soundness, and its intelligent, authoritative voice, the value of the work is in its contention that the English didn't invent the novel. ":One of the most successful literary lies," she says, "is that the English claim to have invented the novel." Her contention borders on revolutionary in the field, and it should set some minds free. She refers to the debunking of this convention in literature as "leaping over a paddock fence and escaping into a larger space."
From Library Journal
Doody, a novelist and the director of Vanderbilt University's comparative literature program, offers a corrective to those who find the origins of the novel in the 16th or 17th century. Challenging the distinction between novel and romance, Doody examines in depth ancient Greek and Roman prose narrative, tracing the novel's transformations through the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and 18th century. She shows the continuity between the ancient novel and the modern, as well as the striking affinities between the Western novel and those of Africa, China, and Japan. Her treatment is thorough and sophisticated yet accessible to the general reader. It is also ambitious and one of the few works that can truly claim to look at world literature.?Thomas L. Cooksey, Armstrong State Coll., Savannah, Ga.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Doody raises these questions and provides wonderful detail and examples to prove her assertion that the novel's origins dates back farther and is influenced by much more than a common understanding would offer. This ambitious work spans many centuries and reaches many parts of the world in attempt to capture the influences of the novel we take for granted today.
Not only does this offer an insightful read, but it also treats the readers in a friendly way by presenting itself as a sort of an idiot's guide to literature's past. Doody avoids the literary form of complexities and allusions that may alienate the reader and make him or her feel like a dolt. This "True Story" is geared towards the "read" fans of novels. If only other literary critics could write as simple and beautifully as Doody there would be many more literary students.