Essentials of the Theory of Fiction

Essentials of the Theory of Fiction

Book Pages: 520 Illustrations: Published: July 2005

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Theory

What accounts for the power of stories to both entertain and illuminate? This question has long compelled the attention of storytellers and students of literature alike, and over the past several decades it has opened up broader dialogues about the nature of culture and interpretation. This third edition of the bestselling Essentials of the Theory of Fiction provides a comprehensive view of the theory of fiction from the nineteenth century through modernism and postmodernism to the present. It offers a sample of major theories of fictional technique while emphasizing recent developments in literary criticism. The essays cover a variety of topics, including voice, point of view, narration, sequencing, gender, and race. Ten new selections address issues such as oral memory in African American fiction, temporality, queer theory, magical realism, interactive narratives, and the effect of virtual technologies on literature. For students and generalists alike, Essentials of the Theory of Fiction is an invaluable resource for understanding how fiction works.

Contributors. M. M. Bakhtin, John Barth, Roland Barthes, Wayne Booth, John Brenkman, Peter Brooks, Catherine Burgass, Seymour Chatman, J. Yellowlees Douglas, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, Wendy B. Faris, Barbara Foley, E. M. Forster, Joseph Frank, Joanne S. Frye, William H. Gass, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Gérard Genette, Ursula K. Heise, Michael J. Hoffman, Linda Hutcheon, Henry James, Susan S. Lanser, Helen Lock, Georg Lukács, Patrick D. Murphy, Ruth Ronen, Joseph Tabbi, Jon Thiem, Tzvetan Todorov, Virginia Woolf


“That there was a perceived need to produce a third, expanded edition of this anthology of essays on the theory of fiction speaks volumes about both the user-friendliness and value of such single-volume compendia. . . . This remains a volume that reminds critics that progress is often not the latest thing in the marketplace but critical pieces that have stood the test of time.” — Forum for Modern Language Studies


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Michael J. Hoffman is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Davis. Among his books are Critical Essays on Gertrude Stein and The Subversive Vision: American Romanticism in Literature.

Patrick D. Murphy is Professor of English at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. His most recent books are Farther Afield in the Study of Nature-Oriented Literature and A Place for Wayfaring: The Poetry and Prose of Gary Snyder.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the Third Edition vii

Introduction 1

1. The Art of Fiction / Henry James 13

2. Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown / Virginia Woolf 21

3. Flat and Round Characters / E. M. Forster 35

4. Epic and Novel / M. M. Bakhtin 43

5. Spatial Form in Modern Literature / Joseph Frank 61

6. Writing and the Novel / Roland Barthes 75

7. Distance and Point of View: An Essay in Classification / Wayne Booth 83

8. Marxist Aesthetics and Literary Realism / Georg Lukas 101

9. The Concept of Character in Fiction / William H. Gass 113

10. Time and Narrative in A la recherche du temps perdu / Gerard Genette 212

11. Discourse: Nonnarrated Stories / Seymour Chatman 139

12. Reading as Construction / Tzvetan Todorov 152

13. The Literature of Replenishment / John Barth 165

14. The Blackness of Blackness: A Critique on the Sign and the
Signifying Monkey / Henry Louis Gates Jr. 177

15. Reading for the Plot / Peter Brooks 201

16. Breaking the Sentence; Breaking the Sequence / Rachel Blau Duplessis 221

17. The Documentary Novel and the Problem of Borders / Barbara Foley 239

18. Politics, Literary Form, and a Feminist Poetics of the Novel / Joanne S. Frye 255

19. “The Pastime of Past Time”: Fiction, History, Historiographical
Metafiction / Linda Hutcheon 275

20. “Building Up from Fragments”: The Oral Memory Process in Some Recent African-American Written Narratives / Helen Lock 297

21. Scheherazade’s Children: Magical Realism and Postmodern Fiction / Wendy B. Faris 311

22. The Textualization of the Reader in Magical Realist Fiction / Jon Thiem 339

23. Are Fictional Worlds Possible? / Ruth Ronen 351

24. Chronoschisms / Ursula K. Heise 361

25. Queering Narratology / Susan S. Lanser 387

26. A Brief Story of Postmodern Plot / Cathrine Burgass 399

27. On Voice / John Brenkman 411

28. What Interactive Narratives Do That Print Narratives Cannot / J. Yellowlees Douglas 443

29. A Media Migration: Toward a Potential Literature / Joseph Tabbi 471

Biographical Notes 491

Permissions 495

Index 499
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3521-4 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3509-2
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