Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chapbook: Before Jane Austen, Harrison R. Steeves

"At the beginning of the eighteenth century there was no novel. By the end, novels of every description were being published, not in dozens but in hundreds." p.1

"The history of the novel is a history of quick growth, quick because in some respects it is no more than the adaption of other and well-matured literary forms. There are no primitives among the novelists; for plot making had been studied and elaborated in the drama and in shorter narrative forms like the novella; character portraiture had reached the level of accomplished art in the seventeenth-century writers of "characters" and in periodicals like The Spectator; situation and incident had been competently handled in long narratives of the romantic type, even as far back as Malory's Morte d'Arthur- or for that matter the Homeric epics and the Northern sagas, with striking sharpness in the domestic sagas of Iceland. The novel, then, can be regarded as an assembled rather than an invented artistic form." p.2

"...the essential purpose of the novel- if not to create the impression of downright and uncompromising reality, at any rate to deal with what seem to be real people, in situations which have the tang of the life of the time and which pose significant problems related to that life." p.4

"Miss Austen can properly be called the first modern English novelist, the earliest to be read with the feeling that she depicts our life, and not a life placed back somewhere in history, or off somewhere in imagined space." p.4

"I know no way of honestly extending one's knowledge of literature other than by reading it- not reading about it." p.5

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