Narrative Machine: The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel

1st Edition

Zena Meadowsong

Routledge
Published December 4, 2018
Reference - 254 Pages
ISBN 9781138392458 - CAT# K400198
Series: Narrative Theory and Culture

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Summary

Narrative Machine: The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel advances a new history of the novel, identifying a crucial link between narrative innovation and the historical process of mechanization. In the late nineteenth century, the novel grapples with a new and increasingly acute problem: In its attempt to represent the colossal power of modern machinery—the steam-driven machines of the Industrial Revolution, the electrical machines of the modern city, and the atomic and digital machines developed after the Second World War—it encounters the limitations of traditional representative strategies. Beginning in the naturalist novel, the machine is typically portrayed as a mythic monster, and though that monster represents a potentially horrific reality—the superhuman power of mechanization—it also disrupts the documentary objectives of narrative realism (the dominant mode of nineteenth-century fiction). The mechanical monster, realistic and yet at odds with traditional realist strategies, tears the form of the novel apart. In doing so, it unleashes a series of innovations that disclose, critique, and contest the force of mechanization: the innovations associated with literary naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism.

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