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,... show more
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; 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 novel.FROM BOOKLIST:Everything we know about the origins of the novel is wrong. The novel did not spring from the minds of eighteenth-century English writers, nor did Cervantes invent it. Instead, the novel coalesced in the Mediterranean in the fourteenth century with Greek romances and Latin satires. And writers were creating experimental, internalized, mischievous, and wildly imaginative novels centuries before James Joyce. In his zestfully encyclopedic, avidly opinionated, and dazzlingly fresh history of the most elastic of literary forms, Moore shares his discoveries of ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Hebrew, Greek, Roman, and Christian fiction and analyzes with unflagging enthusiasm the novels of medieval and Renaissance Europe, followed by deep readings of Indian, Tibetan, Arabic, Persian, Japanese, and Chinese fiction. Reveling in the most innovative and daring creations, Moore energetically evaluates tales fantastic, chilling, hilarious, erotic, and tragic, comparing centuries-old novels to those of Barth, Gaddis, Pynchon, and Vollmann. Destined for controversy, Moore s erudite, gargantuan, kaleidoscopic, and venturesome alternative history will leave readers feeling as though they ve been viewing literature with blinders on.