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By Jane Smiley

Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling novelist Jane Smiley celebrates the novel–and takes us on a thrilling journey via 100 of them–in this seductive and immensely profitable literary tribute.

In her inimitable style–exuberant, candid, opinionated–Smiley explores the ability of the unconventional, taking a look at its historical past and diversity, its cultural impression, and simply the way it works its magic. She invitations us backstage of novel-writing, sharing her personal behavior and spilling the secrets and techniques of her craft. and she or he deals worthwhile suggestion to aspiring authors. As she works her means via 100 novels–from classics akin to the thousand-year-old Tale of Genji to fresh fiction via Zadie Smith and Alice Munro–she infects us anew with the fervour for analyzing that's the governing spirit of this present to booklet fanatics all over the place.

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Extra resources for 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel

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In these chapters, attempting to interrelate, in terms of Coleridgean-Emersonian polarities, such antagonisms as quotation and originality, tuition and intuition, passivity and activity, Nature and Mind, I contrast discursive knowledge and immediately experienced “life,” in which Nature is alternately a quasi mother and our best teacher—before becoming, though infused with spirit, a servant to the sovereign mind. According to volume 3 of Schelling’s System of Transcendental Idealism, the polarity of subject and object, conscious intelligence and unconscious nature, could be resolved by the imagination.

Whether this view or calling—which Cavell has named “moral perfectionism”—is “essentially elitist, or on the contrary whether its imagining of justice is essential to the aspiration of a democratic society, is a guiding question” in his book. Noting that “a principal object of Emerson’s thinking is to urge a reconsideration” of the relation, and the relative “priority,” of soul (or self) and society, Cavell implies an association made explicit in a forthcoming study by Jennifer Gurley, who reads Emerson’s Nature through the prism of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, emphasizing the enlightened individual’s communal responsibility to enlighten others—a task later assumed by Nietzsche’s Zarathustra.

Rejecting the depiction of Emersonian individualism as a “social value,” even “the flowering of democracy” (a thesis nuanced in Cavell, “strenuous” in George Kateb), Donoghue presents an “arch-radical” with “no interest in providing professors of politics with a theory of 20 EMERSON, ROMANTICISM, AND INTUITIVE REASON in the Intimations Ode, culminating in that “light of all our day” to which Emerson repeatedly refers. Finally, taken as a whole, what follows is less an “influence study” than an exploration of elective affinities, family resemblances, and analogies binding together in a visionary company a number of highly individual writers exhibiting “original Genius of a high order”—especially, though not exclusively, Milton, Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Emerson, with more peripheral attention to Carlyle, Hazlitt, Keats, Thoreau, Whitman, Nietzsche, Yeats, and Stevens.

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