How Novels Think: The Limits of Individualism from 1719-1900

Kobo ebook | March 7, 2006

byNancy Armstrong

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Nancy Armstrong argues that the history of the novel and the history of the modern individual are, quite literally, one and the same. She suggests that certain works of fiction created a subject, one displaying wit, will, or energy capable of shifting the social order to grant the exceptional person a place commensurate with his or her individual worth. Once the novel had created this figure, readers understood themselves in terms of a narrative that produced a self-governing subject.

In the decades following the revolutions in British North America and France, the major novelists distinguished themselves as authors by questioning the fantasy of a self-made individual. To show how novels by Defoe, Austen, Scott, Brontë, Dickens, Eliot, Hardy, Haggard, and Stoker participated in the process of making, updating, and perpetuating the figure of the individual, Armstrong puts them in dialogue with the writings of Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Malthus, Darwin, Kant, and Freud. Such theorists as Althusser, Balibar, Foucault, and Deleuze help her make the point that the individual was not one but several different figures. The delineation and potential of the modern subject depended as much upon what it had to incorporate as what alternatives it had to keep at bay to address the conflicts raging in and around the British novel.

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Nancy Armstrong argues that the history of the novel and the history of the modern individual are, quite literally, one and the same. She suggests that certain works of fiction created a subject, one displaying wit, will, or energy capable of shifting the social order to grant the exceptional person a place commensurate with his or her...

Nancy Armstrong is chair of the English department and Nancy Duke Lewis Professor of Comparative Literature, English, Modern Culture and Media, and Gender Studies at Brown University. She is the author of several books including, Fiction in the Age of Photography: The Legacy of British Realism and Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Poli...

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Format:Kobo ebookPublished:March 7, 2006Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231503873

ISBN - 13:9780231503877

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction. How Novels Think
1. How the Misfit Became a Moral Protagonist
2. When Novels Made Nations
3. Why a Good Man Is Hard to Find in Victorian Fiction
4. The Polygenetic Imagination
5. The Necessary Gothic
Notes
Index

Editorial Reviews

A compelling and thought-provoking book.