The Lives of the Novel

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Thomas G. Pavel unravels what a novel is in his thoroughly researched The Lives of the Novel: A History. This academic work is fascinating as it delves into the intricacies of the novel and its importance. Throughout history, novels have been built upon the inspiration of other novels, as Pavel explains. For example, Pavel explores the influence of Heliodorus’s Ethiopian Story on a wide range of writers that came afterward, including Cervantes, Sir Philip Sidney, Aphra Behn, and Jean Racine, a seventeenth century French playwright. Pavel’s reading list spans ten pages and reaches into – and weaves together – books from ancient Greek times forward.

Instead of a dry chronological account, Pavel divides the history into four parts, which encompass “The Highest Ideals,” “The Enchantment of Interiority,” “The Roots of Greatness,” and “The Art of Detachment.” But within those distinct groupings, Pavel has focused on more specific themes found throughout our academic and casual reading. For the most part, if you’ve never read the books Pavel references, you’ll be fine. But you may find yourself adding to your books-to-read list. If you have ever wanted to know how the novel came to be what it is, Pavel is certainly an able guide.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 360 pages
Publisher Princeton University Press
Publish Date 2013-Sep-22
ISBN 9780691121895 Buy this Book
Issue January 2014
Category History


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