Lukács's Theory of the novel has long been a key work in the philosophy but not the sociology of literature. J. M. Bernstein shows that Theory of the Novel must be seen in conjunction with History and Class Consciousness as a major contribution to a Marxist hermeneutics. He ties the philosophy of Lukács to Kant, Hegel, and Marx and contends that the categories structuring the novel are the central concepts of Kant's philosophy and that, therefore, the novel is marked by the same antinomies that infect Kant's system. Bernstein offers a concise account of dialectical theory and a telling analysis of Western (Hegelian) Marxism. He concludes with a critique of contemporary literary and critical practices, practices which only reinforce the antimonies already present in the novel. --From cover.
This book explores the aesthetics of the novel from the perspective of Continental European philosophy, presenting a theory on the philosophical definition and importance of the novel as a literary genre. It analyses a variety of individuals whose work is reflected in both theoretical literary criticism and Continental European aesthetics, including Mikhail Bakhtin, Georg Lukács, Theodor Adorno, and Walter Benjamin. Moving through material from eighteenth century and ancient Greek philosophy and aesthetics, the book provides comprehensive coverage of the major positions on the philosophy of the novel. Distinctive features include the importance of Vico’s view of the epic to understanding the novel, the importance of Kierkegaard’s view of the novel and irony along with his other aesthetic views, the different possibilities associated with seeing the novel as ‘mimetic’ and the importance of Proust in understanding the genre in all its philosophical aspects, relating the issue of the philosophical aesthetics of the novel with the issue of philosophy written as a novel and the interaction between these two alternative positions.
Alan H. Goldman presents an original and lucid account of the relationship between philosophy and the novel. In the first part, on philosophy of novels, he defends theories of literary value and interpretation. Literary value, the value of literary works as such, is a species of aesthetic value. Goldman argues that works have aesthetic value when they simultaneously engage all our mental capacities: perceptual, cognitive, imaginative, and emotional. This view contrasts with now prevalent narrower formalist views of literary value. According to it, cognitive engagement with novels includes appreciation of their broad themes and the theses these imply, often moral and hence philosophical theses, which are therefore part of the novels' literary value. Interpretation explains elements of works so as to allow readers maximum appreciation, so as to maximize the literary value of the texts as written. Once more, Goldman's view contrasts with narrower views of literary interpretation, especially those which limit it to uncovering what authors intended. One implication of Goldman's broader view is the possibility of incompatible but equally acceptable interpretations, which he explores through a discussion of rival interpretations of Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. Goldman goes on to test the theory of value by explaining the immense appeal of good mystery novels in its terms. The second part of the book, on philosophy in novels, explores themes relating to moral agency—moral development, motivation, and disintegration—in Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, John Irving's The Cider House Rules, and Joseph Conrad's Nostromo. By narrating the course of characters' lives, including their inner lives, over extended periods, these novels allow us to vicariously experience the characters' moral progressions, positive and negative, to learn in a more focused way moral truths, as we do from real life experiences.
The marriage of philosophy and fiction in the first third of Spain's twentieth century was a fertile one. It produced some truly notable offspring -- novels that cross genre boundaries to find innovative forms, and treatises that fuse literature and philosophy in new ways. In her illuminating interdisciplinary study of Spanish fiction of the "Silver Age," Roberta Johnson places this important body of Spanish literature in context through a synthesis of social, literary, and philosophical history. Her examination of the work of Miguel de Unamuno, Pio Baroja, Azorin, Ramon Perez de Ayala, Juan Ramon Jimenez, Gabriel Miro, Pedro Salinas, Rosa Chacel, and Benjamin Jarnes brings to light philosophical frictions and debates and opens new interpersonal and intertextual perspectives on many of the period's most canonical novels. Johnson reformulates the traditional discussion of generations and "isms" by viewing the period as an intergenerational complex in which writers with similar philosophical and personal interests constituted dynamic groupings that interacted and constantly defined and redefined one another. Current narratological theories, including those of Todorov, Genette, Bakhtin, and Martinez Bonati, assist in teasing out the intertextual maneuvers and philosophical conflicts embedded in the novels of the period, while the sociological and biographical material bridges the philosophical and literary analyses. The result, solidly grounded in original archival research, is a convincingly complete picture of Spain's intellectual world in the first thirty years of this century. Crossfire should revolutionize thinking about the Generation of '98 and the Generation of '14 by identifying the heterogeneous philosophical sources of each and the writers' reactions to them in fiction.
Through the voice of the narrator of Remembrance of Things Past, Proust observes of the painter Elstir that the paintings are bolder than the artist; Elstir the painter is bolder than Elstir the theorist. This book applies the same distinction Proust; the Proustian novel is bolder than Proust the theorist. By this the author means that the novel is philosophically bolder, that it pursues further the task Proust identifies as the writer's work: to explain life, to elucidate what has been lived in obscurity and confusion. In this, the novelist and the philosopher share a common goal: to clarify the obscure in order to arrive at the truth. It follows that Proust's real philosophy of the novel is to be found not in the speculative passages of Remembrance, which merely echo the philosophical commonplaces of his time, but in the truly novelistic or narrative portions of his text. In Against Sainte-Beuve, Proust sets forth his ideas about literature in the form of a critique of the method of Sainte-Beuve. Scholars who have studied Proust's notebooks describe the way in which this essay was taken over by bits of narrative originally intended as illustration supporting its theses. The philosophical portions of Remembrance were not added to the narrative as an afterthought, designed to bring out its meaning. What happened was the reverse: the novel was born of a desire to illustrate the propositions of the essay. Why then should we not find the novel more philosophically advanced than the essay? Reversing the usual order followed by literary critics, the author interprets the novel as an elucidation, and not as a simple transposition, of the essay. The book is not only a general interpretation of Proust's novel and its construction; it includes detailed discussions of such topics as literature and philosophy, the nature of the literary genres, the poetics of the novel, the definition of art, modernity and postmodernity, and the sociology of literature.
The papers assembled in this volume explore a relatively new area in scholarship on the ancient novel: the relationship between an ostensibly non-philosophical genre and philosophy. This approach opens up several original themes for further research and debate. Platonising fiction was popular in the Second Sophistic and it took a variety of forms, ranging from the intertextual to the allegorical, and discussions of the origins of the novel-genre in antiquity have centred on the role of Socratic dialogue in general and Plato’s dialogues in particular as important precursors. The papers in this collection cover a variety of genres, ranging from the Greek and Roman novels to utopian narratives and fictional biographies, and seek by diverse methods to detect philosophical resonances in these texts.
In this fascinating study, Peter Johnson makes explicit the issues involved in using the novel as a source in moral philosophy. The book pays close attention to questions of method, aesthetic accounts of the novel and the nature of ethical knowledge. The views of leading philosophers are examined and criticised in the light of the book's distinctive contribution to the current debate.
This book examines the eighteenth-century novel in the context of emerging theories of happiness in early Enlightenment Europe. This important and richly interdisciplinary book offers both a new understanding of the cultural work the eighteenth-century novel performed, as well as an original interpretation of the Enlightenment’s ethical legacy.