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Distributed for University Press of New England

The Rhetoric of Modernist Fiction

From a New Point of View

Though it has been one of the most influential critical works of the last fifty years, Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction has disappointed many readers in its treatment of modernism. Despite Booth’s astute and influential readings of earlier novels, his system shed little light on the experiments in point of view that characterize many more recent works. Despite a revision some two decades after its first publication, the book continues to strike many readers as outdated in its choices of authors and texts. In a bold updating of that seminal work, Morton P. Levitt, long-time editor of the Journal of Modern Literature, explores the rhetoric of point of view in modernist and post-modernist novels, offering new insights into some of the greatest works of the last century. As the editor of one of the most important journals in the field, Levitt has been uniquely situated to absorb and reflect critically upon the most significant scholarship on modernist fiction. In a series of subtle, persuasive readings, he demonstrates that the rejection of omniscience is one of the defining characteristics of modernist and post-modernist novels. From Joyce and Woolf to Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, and José Saramago, Levitt discusses a wide range of texts in readings that will be accessible to students and invaluable to scholars.

218 pages | 6 x 9

Literature and Literary Criticism: General Criticism and Critical Theory

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Table of Contents

Preface • The Art of Point of View • Booth, Joyce and Modernist Points of View • Some Rules for Reading Modernist Novels • Some Fallacies of Intention / Modernist Characteristics • The Role and Responsibility of the Modernist Reader • Booth, Henry James and James Joyce: Distance/Ambiguity/Amorality • The Fallacy of the “Implied Author” • A Brief History of Point of View in the Brief History of the Novel • Chaucer’s Persona • Eighteenth-Century Beginnings: Fielding and Richardson • Nineteenth-Century English Forms: Dickens, Thackeray, Trollope, Brontë • Nineteenth-Century American Forms: Hawthorne • Straddling the Centuries: Henry James, Novelist and Theoretician • Nineteenth-Century European Developments: Stendhal and Flaubert • Anton Chekhov • Modernist Intentions and Innovations: The Role of the Reader • Learning What to Leave Out: Joyce’s Dubliners • Hemingway as Model: In the Path of Dubliners • To Narrate, Narration, Narrator, Narratology • Some Narrators and Their Audiences: Browning, Rossetti, Dostoevsky, Camus • Conrad and Marlow • Oral Histories and Historians: Faulkner and Claude Simon • (Good Old Fashioned) Reliability and its Modernist Face • (Potential) Unreliability: Dickens, Fowles, Gide, Ford, and Melville • John Fowles’ Daniel Martin • André Gide’s The Counterfeiters • Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier • Reliability Beyond Narration: Melville and the Question of Confi dence • Narration within Narration: Social and Personal Histories • The Narrative Act in A la recherche du temps perdu • Patrick Chamoiseau, Oiseau de Cham and Texaco • Narrative Invention: Critics Inventing Narrators • The Presumed “Narrator” in Joyce’s Telemachus” • The Would-Be Narrator in Woolf ’s The Waves • The Creation of Consciousness on the Page: Forms of Internal Monologue • Individual Consciousness: Mrs. Dalloway and Mr. Bloom on City Streets • Stream of Consciousness/Monologue Intérieur (Ulysses) • Universal Consciousness/The Unconscious (Finnegans Wake) • Disintegration • “An attack from the inside”: The Narrator Self-Destructs: Michel Butor • Omniscience • Late Modern Revivals • Margaret Drabble • At Play in the Fields of Omniscience: José Saramago • At Play in the Fields of Omniscience (II): Carol Shields • The Subjective Uses of Narrative Objectivity • Modernist Objectivity • Booth, Joyce and “Authorial Objectivity” • Avoiding the Authorial Presence: Lawrence v. Kafka • Modernist Narrative Survivals and Adaptations: From Kazantzakis to Bellow, Allegra Goodman, Don DeLillo • Metafiction as Narration • Comic Strips and Movies • Detective Novels • John Barth • Philip Roth • Time as a Function of Point of View • From Victorian Chronology to the Time of the Mind • Time for Mann/Biblical Time • Joycean Time • Proustean Time • Time Passes: Faulkner, Simon, Woolf • Time’s Calendar: Carlos Fuentes • Notes • Index

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