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The Technology of the Novel

Writing and Narrative in British Fiction

Tony E. Jackson

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2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

The connection between speech and writing in human language has been a matter of philosophical debate since antiquity. By plumbing the depths of this complex relationship, Tony E. Jackson explains how the technology of alphabetic writing has determined the nature of the modern novel.

Jackson’s analysis begins with the universal human act of oral storytelling. While telling stories is fundamental to human experience, writing is not. Yet the novel, perhaps more than any other literary form, depends on writing. In fact, as Jackson shows quite clearly, it is…

2009 Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

The connection between speech and writing in human language has been a matter of philosophical debate since antiquity. By plumbing the depths of this complex relationship, Tony E. Jackson explains how the technology of alphabetic writing has determined the nature of the modern novel.

Jackson’s analysis begins with the universal human act of oral storytelling. While telling stories is fundamental to human experience, writing is not. Yet the novel, perhaps more than any other literary form, depends on writing. In fact, as Jackson shows quite clearly, it is writing rather than print that most shapes the forms and contents of the genre.

Through striking new readings of works by Austen, Mary Shelley, Dickens, Forster, Woolf, Lessing, and McEwan, Jackson reveals how the phenomena of speech and storytelling interact with the technological characteristics of writing. He also explains how those interactions induced the generic changes in the novel from its eighteenth-century beginnings to postmodernism and beyond. His claims, grounded in a contemporary understanding of human cognitive capacities and constraints, offer a fresh interpretive approach to all written literature.

An essential text in the study of the written word, The Technology of the Novel provides new insights into the evolving nature of one of the modern world's most popular narrative forms.

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The Technology of the Novel

Tony E. Jackson

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Reviews

Reviews

This excellent study, balanced, shrewd, and creative, does an extraordinary job of unveiling to novel-readers the technology they take for granted.

Jackson's book is splendid. Discussions of general issues and specific texts are lucid and complex. He always acknowledges that the novels he deals with have other concerns besides orality and writing. He stresses that critiques of alphabetic narrative are only possible within written texts. He sees canonical texts in a fresh light; one wants to test his arguments against other novels.

A valuable reflection on the way writing shapes narrative... A pleasure to read.

This ambitious book stakes out its turf in the same patch of ground where Auerbach pitched the big tent of Mimesis, and, like Mimesis, it provides a way of seeing afresh a set of canonical works.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
248
ISBN
9780801895401
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. To Begin: Speaking, Writing, Storytelling
2. Writing, Reading, and Disembodiment in Pride and Prejudice
3. The Monstrous Writing of Frankenstein
4. Letters and Spirits in Bleak House
5

Acknowledgments
1. To Begin: Speaking, Writing, Storytelling
2. Writing, Reading, and Disembodiment in Pride and Prejudice
3. The Monstrous Writing of Frankenstein
4. Letters and Spirits in Bleak House
5. The De-Composition of Writing in A Passage to India
6. The Waves: Disembodiment and Its Discontents
7. "Why a story at all?": The Writing of The Golden Notebook
8. The Alphabetic Story of Atonement
9. After Alphabetic Story: Citizen Kane
Notes
Works Cited
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Tony E. Jackson

Tony E. Jackson is an associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and author of The Subject of Modernism: Narrative Alterations in the Fiction of Eliot, Conrad, Woolf, and Joyce.