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THE ROMANTICS - COMPLETE I. GENRE AND FORM A. CRITICISM
= "Every novel...is a hybrid...it is an intentional and conscious hybrid, one artistically organized, and not an opaque mechanistic mixture of languages" Bakhtin 'Discourse in the Novel' in The Dialogical Imagination (1981)
= "formal realism (a set of formal devices in prose fiction designed to promote the illusion that the text is a representation of 'real life') develops as a reaction to the category of 'romance' in the later 17th century through the 18th century through the twin influences of 1) empirical philosophy (that we 'know' the world through experience) and 2) Puritan religious culture (promoting an unmediated relationship between the individual and his God, hence new value placed on individual investigation of the self" Ian Watt The Rise of the Novel; Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (1957)
= "the novel achieves its status as a 'simple abstraction' in the mid 18th cent. by virtue of its ability to negotiate 'categorical instability'. Problems of generic categorization (questions of truth - how to tell the truth in narrative) and problems of social categorization (questions of virtue - how to establish the 'virtue' of characters in a period when a code of aristocratic honour is in decline) are articulated in tandem. The novel develops through 'parody, internalization and negation' of a variety of forms rather than a march of 'realism" Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel 1600-1740
= "the novel is the product of a media industry's attempts to respond to an shape the pleasures of the reader. Its entertainment values are 'licensed' by the claim in mid-century fiction to overcome to 'absorptive' pleasures of reading fostered by popular fictional entertainments of the early eighteenth century with an encouragement of 'critical' reading (esp in the work of H. Fielding)" William B Warner, Licensing Entertainment: The Elevation of Novel Reading in Britain 1684-1750) B. SUB-GENRES
= 'it' novel / novel of circulation o Frances Coventruy The History of Pomepey the Little: or the Life and Adventures of a Lap-dog (1751) o Helenus Scott, The Adventures of a Rupee (1781)
= The Gothic o Horace Walpole The Castle of Otranto (1760) o Ann Radcliffe The Italian (1797) o Matthew Lewis The Monk (1796) o Charlotte DAcre Zofloya (1806) o Mary Shelley Frankenstein (1818) o Jane Austin Northhanger Abbey (P.H 1818)
= Novels of Sensibility o Oliver Goldsmith The Vicar of Wakefield (1768) o Lawrence Sterne A Sentimental Journey (1768) o Henry MacKenszie The Man of Feeling (1771)
= Domestic Fiction o Eliza Haywood The History of Miss Betsy Thoughless (1751) o Sarah Fielding The Adventures of David SImple (1742) o Charlotte Lennox The Female Quixote (1752)
= Quixotic Traditions o Smollett The Adventures of Sir Lancelot Greaves (1740) o Charlotte Lennox The Female Quixote (1752) o Richard Graves The Spiritual Quixote (1773) o Lawrence Sterne Tristram Shandy (1759-67)
C. CONTEMPORARY DEBATE
1. EXAMPLE 1 Jane Austin, Northanger Abbey ch 5 (1818) "...and shut themselves up, to read novels together"
= Novel is concerned with RELATIONSHIP + ETHICAL being (ie moral relationship to the 'other') Novels are often written collaboratively or associated with circles of consumption and production. They are fullest expression of the new culture of 'sociability' - the philosophies of Shaftesbury, Hume, etc that stress human nature is sociable and that 'virtue' derives from our earliest experiences of affectionate familial bonds - so novels are often concerned with family relationships "Yes; novels - for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding -- joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust....Let us leave it to the Reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans
= Novel production is an 'industry' - The novel may only energy as a 'category' as a publishing tool, a kind of early form - in a period in which consumerism + commodification are being invented - of 'branding'. Austin writing exposes the self consciousness / tropes / devices used by other authors "Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decreed....while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope and Prior, with a paper form the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens
= Novel is in competition with other popular genres - history, periodical, abridged history, anthology etc. Cheap form of print recycling familiar materials. Novels are indeed themselves in constant dialogue with predecessors. Not least Pamela (1740) which echoes through 18th century (either admired / criticised) for promoting revolutionary freedoms of the popular subject (eg serving maid wins hand of aristocrat through defence of her virtue) "seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no novel reader --I seldom look into novels --Do not imagine that I often read novels -- IT is really very well for a novel." - -Such is the common cant---"And what are you reading Miss---" "Oh! it is only a novel"...."It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"
= All novels are eponymous novels referring to HEROINES and that all are written by women,( Frances Burney Cecilia / Camilla, Maria Edgeworth - Belinda. Novel might be seens as a 'woman's genre' either concerned with female protagonists or feminized male protagonists (see Goldsmith, MacKenzie, Sterne). Certainly associated with female readership at risk of 'dangerous influence'.
= Nancy Armstrong in Desire and Domestic Fiction (1987) argues that a newly hegemonic bourgeois class is seeking to establish a reputation for virtue in new areas than those traditionally inhabited by the 'aristocracy' - hence domestic space becomes one in which virtue is tested and proved. Thus model of the bourgeois subject in 18th C eng is the domestic woman "...or in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour are conveyed to the world in the best chosen language
= Best chosen language' - novel is a form in which struggles over meaning + representation are dramatized +
represented on the level of content. Pamela and Mr B can be seen as engaged in a struggle over representation in which one kind of fiction tries to capture another. Bahktin sees language of the novel as a 'dialogic' as apposed to monologic form in which different voices compete and contest with each other for meaning without being contained by a single linguistic position of authority.
= Austin though might be seen as the end point of this kind of playful instability in the novel form. Arguable, Austin concretised and extends the monologic powers of Fielding's juridical narrator to make the novel and 'ideological' form that invisibly guides our reading and interpretation to oblige a 'correct' readerly judgment
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