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The Novel Art : Elevations of American Fiction after Henry James - Mark McGurl

The Novel Art

Elevations of American Fiction after Henry James

Paperback Published: 4th November 2001
ISBN: 9780691088990
Number Of Pages: 240

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Once upon a time there were good American novels and bad ones, but none was thought of as a work of art. "The Novel Art" tells the story of how, beginning with Henry James, this began to change. Examining the late-nineteenth century movement to elevate the status of the novel, its sources, paradoxes, and reverberations into the twentieth century, Mark McGurl presents a more coherent and wide-ranging account of the development of American modernist fiction than ever before.

Moving deftly from James to Stephen Crane, Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, William Faulkner, Dashiell Hammett, and Djuna Barnes among others, McGurl argues that what unifies this diverse group of ambitious writers is their agonized relation to a middling genre rarely included in discussions of the fine arts. He concludes that the new product, despite its authors' desire to distinguish it from popular forms, never quite forsook the intimacy the genre had long cultivated with the common reader. Indeed, the ''art novel'' sought status within the mass market, and among its prime strategies was a promotion of the mind as a source of value in an economy increasingly dependent on mental labor. McGurl also shows how modernism's obsessive interest in simple-mindedness revealed a continued concern with the masses even as it attempted to use this simplicity to produce a heightened sophistication of form. Masterfully argued and set in elegant prose, "The Novel Art" provides a rich new understanding of the fascinating road the American novel has taken from being an artless enterprise to an aesthetic one.

"[This] intriguing book traces James's efforts to promote the Anglo-American novel as not only higher than mere popular entertainment but as a potential claimant for fine art... McGurl's book is highly recommended and a successor to Henry James's The Art of the Novel."--Choice

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introduction: The Rise of the Art-Novel and the Question of Classp. 1
Certain Novelsp. 1
Mental Laborp. 10
Methodological Philistinism: From Difference to Distinctionp. 19
The Mind's Eye and Mental Labor: Forms of Distinction in the Fiction of Henry Jamesp. 30
The Novel as Masterpiecep. 30
Epistemologies of Social Classp. 42
The Romance of Romance: Virtue Unrewardedp. 49
Divisive Perspectivismp. 53
Social Geometries: Taking Place in the Jamesian Modernist Textp. 57
The Hidden Dimensions of Classp. 57
Fictions of the Massp. 66
Extraordinary Readersp. 74
Downward Mobilities: The Prison of the Womb and the Architecture of Career in Stephen Cranep. 78
House of Fiction, House of Shamep. 78
Urban Ambitions: Crane, Wharton, O. Henryp. 85
Transient Occupations: From Howells to Crane to Dos Passosp. 102
Highbrows and Dumb Blondes: Literary Intellectuals and the Romance of Intelligencep. 106
Playing Dumb with Anita Loosp. 106
Bad Students and Smart Setsp. 111
Morons and Moralizers: The Eugenic Romancep. 118
Smart White Blacks: Mencken, Stein, and Racep. 124
Pastoral Intellectionp. 129
Faulkner's Ambit: Modernism, Regionalism, and the Location of Cultural Capitalp. 135
Racinations: A Deeper Southp. 135
Relations: Modernism and Mulesp. 146
Making "Literature" of It: Dashiell Hammett and the Mysteries of High Culturep. 158
God, Mammon, and Willard Wrightp. 158
Murdering Representationp. 166
Afterword: Mobius Fictionsp. 177
Notesp. 183
Indexp. 215
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691088990
ISBN-10: 0691088993
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 4th November 2001
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 1.27
Weight (kg): 0.34