HS 431 : Reading Fiction

Salient topics of this course are as follows:  The novel: birth of a genre in the eighteenth century; literary ancestors of the novel; evolution of the form; its coming of age in the nineteenth century; status of the novel as an art-form; potential for experimentation; self-consciousness and metafiction; the novel in the age of modernism and postmodernism.

           In the twentieth century the evolution of the novel form has involved interesting and unconventional experiments such as John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman (FLW) (1969) and Salman Rushdie's  Midnight's Children (1981), for instance, which adapt the literary form of the historical novel into metafiction and magic realism respectively. As a result, a radical mode of reading is called for from the reader. FLW among other things offers two endings (as alternatives) from which the reader is invited to choose one.

            Reading fiction has become a challenging activity in the twentieth century. Often the reader is required to position her/himself within the story, and participate in the production of meaning as well as the carrying-forward of narrative. The course aims to provide a glimpse of these changes in the evolution of the form of the novel, and throw particular light on representative novels.

Texts/ References

Charles Dickens: The Mystery of Edwin Drood, 1870, Penguin Books, London, 1993.   

John Fowles: The French Lieutenant�s Woman, 1969, Pan Books, London, 1987.   

Salman Rushdie: Midnight�s Children, 1980, Avon Books, New York, 1982.   

Arnold Kettle: An Introduction to the English Novel, 2nd edition, Volumes One and Two,  Hutchinson University Library, London, 1951, 1953.   

Brian McHale: Postmodernist Fiction, Routledge, London and New York, 1989.