The Literary Channel: The Inter-National Invention of the Novel

Princeton University Press
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The Literary Channel defines a crucial transnational literary "zone" that shaped the development of the modern novel. During the first two centuries of the genre's history, Britain and France were locked in political, economic, and military struggle. The period also saw British and French writers, critics, and readers enthusiastically exchanging works, codes, and theories of the novel. Building on both nationally based literary history and comparatist work on poetics, this book rethinks the genre's evolution as marking the power and limits of modern cultural nationalism.

In the Channel zone, the novel developed through interactions among texts, readers, writers, and translators that inextricably linked national literary cultures. It served as a forum to promote and critique nationalist clichés, whether from the standpoint of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, the insurgent nationalism of colonized spaces, or the non-nationalized culture of consumption. In the process, the Channel zone promoted codes that became the genre's hallmarks, including the sentimental poetics that would shape fiction through the nineteenth century.

Uniting leading critics who bridge literary history and theory, The Literary Channel will appeal to all readers attentive to the future of literary studies, as well as those interested in the novel's development, British and French cultural history, and extra-national patterns of cultural exchange. Contributors include April Alliston, Emily Apter, Margaret Cohen, Joan DeJean, Carolyn Dever, Lynn Festa, Françoise Lionnet, Deidre Shauna Lynch, Sharon Marcus, Richard Maxwell, and Mary Helen McMurran.

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About the author

Margaret Cohen is Professor of Comparative Literature at New York University. She is the author of The Sentimental Education of the Novel (Princeton) and Profane Illumination and the coeditor of Spectacles of Realism. Carolyn Dever is Associate Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Feminism, In Theory and Death and the Mother from Dickens to Freud.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Feb 14, 2009
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Pages
336
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ISBN
9781400829514
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
Literary Criticism / European / French
Literary Criticism / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Fiction has always been in a state of transformation and circulation: how does this history of mobility inform the emergence of the novel? The Spread of Novels explores the active movements of English and French fiction in the eighteenth century and argues that the new literary form of the novel was the result of a shift in translation. Demonstrating that translation was both the cause and means by which the novel attained success, Mary Helen McMurran shows how this period was a watershed in translation history, signaling the end of a premodern system of translation and the advent of modern literary exchange.

McMurran illuminates aspects of prose fiction translation history, including the radical revision of fiction's origins from that of cross-cultural transfer to one rooted by nation; the contradictory pressures of the book trade, which relied on translators to energize the market, despite the increasing devaluation of their labor; and the dynamic role played by prose fiction translation in Anglo-French relations across the Channel and in the New World. McMurran examines French and British novels, as well as fiction that circulated in colonial North America, and she considers primary source materials by writers as varied as Frances Brooke, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, and Françoise Graffigny. The Spread of Novels reassesses the novel's embodiment of modernity and individualism, discloses the novel's surprisingly unmodern characteristics, and recasts the genre's rise as part of a burgeoning vernacular cosmopolitanism.

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