Object Lessons: The Novel As A Theory Of Reference

Hardcover | July 15, 2016

byJami Bartlett

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Object Lessons explores a fundamental question about literary realism: How can language evoke that which is not language and render objects as real entities? Drawing on theories of reference in the philosophy of language, Jami Bartlett examines novels by George Meredith, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Iris Murdoch that provide allegories of language use in their descriptions, characters, and plots. Bartlett shows how these authors depict the philosophical complexities of reference by writing through and about referring terms, the names and descriptions that allow us to “see” objects. At the same time, she explores what it is for words to have meaning and delves into the conditions under which a reference can be understood. Ultimately, Object Lessons reveals not only how novels make references, but also how they are about referring.

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Object Lessons explores a fundamental question about literary realism: How can language evoke that which is not language and render objects as real entities? Drawing on theories of reference in the philosophy of language, Jami Bartlett examines novels by George Meredith, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Iris Murdoch ...

Jami Bartlett is associate professor of English at the University of California, Irvine.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:184 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.9 inPublished:July 15, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022636965X

ISBN - 13:9780226369655

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction

1 Meredith & Ends
2 Throwing Things in Thackeray
3 Gaskell’s Lost Objects
4 Murdoch and the Monolith

Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

“In Object Lessons, Bartlett argues that the nineteenth-century realist novel is less a form of representation than an intentional and ironic act of reference, a self-conscious effort to understand what it means to reach for, interact with, or point at things. Putting novels by Meredith, Thackeray, Gaskell, and Murdoch into conversation with analytic and other philosophies of language, intention, and action, she shows in close detail what happens when novels use language to handle or to name the world and its objects. Pursuing these analyses with rigorous attention to the novel’s minor details as well as to its deep structures, Bartlett offers original readings of major Victorian narratives and develops a new and persuasive way to read literary fiction.”