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


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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

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Nancy Armstrong has written a tour de force in which she formulates with breathtaking compactness and clarity a new way of viewing the relationship between the novel and the modern individual. -- John Kucich, University of Michigan, author of The Power of Lies: Transgression in Victorian Fiction In this important new book by one of our most influential scholars of literature, canon formation becomes the central question in the history of the novel. With great lucidity, power, and wit, Armstrong analyzes the logic that binds together the historical form of the novel, its institutionalization in cultural tradition, and the invention of the modern subject. How Novels Think will provoke all students of literature to think in more challenging ways about 'the cultural norms incorporated in the modern individual and reproduced in the nuclear family.' -- Daniel Cottom, University of Oklahoma, author of Cannibals and Philosophers: Bodies of Enlightenment Extending the inquiry of her pathbreaking Desire and Domestic Fiction, Nancy Armstrong's How Novels Think brilliantly explores how novels shifted from making the misfit the protagonist, to disciplining the individualism of women, and imagining the aberrant so as to make readers wish to embody the norm. Treating the individual as the product rather than the source of fiction, Armstrong convincingly explains the role of the Gothic in nineteenth-century realism, as it contends with the contradictions of gender and capitalism. -- Jonathan Culler, Cornell University, author of Structuralist Poetics

About the Author

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 Political History of the Novel.


"This volume showcases Armstrong's wide critical imagination and ability... Essential." -- Choice "A compelling and thought-provoking book." -- Miranda El-Rayess, Times Literary Supplement

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