The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800
In the acclaimed first volume of his history of the world's most popular literary form, Steven Moore unearthed and told the stories of remarkable works of fiction that have been neglected in conventional histories of the novel. The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800 picks up the story, beginning with Cervantes's Don Quixote,examines the flowering of the novel in early modern Europe and the East, and concludes with the earliest novels written in the newly formed United States. By 1600 the novel was an established literary genre and experienced a remarkable growth spurt for the next two centuries as authors experimented with different approaches, transforming the novel from a rather disreputable form of entertainment into the respectable genre it became in the nineteenth century. For most readers, their familiarity with pre-1800 European fiction is limited to Don Quixote, Candide, The Sorrows of Young Werther, perhaps The Princess of Cleves, Dangerous Liaisons, or Jacques the Fatalist, and the names of Rousseau and Sade. Even familiarity with pre-1800 English novels is for most readers limited to a half-dozen classics (Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver's Travels, Pamela, Tom Jones, Tristram Shandy). Regarding Oriental fiction, few lovers of literature are aware of perhaps the greatest novel of that period (The Dream of Red Mansions) much less any of the dozens of other fascinating works published in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Novel: An Alternative History, 1600-1800 covers all of the famous classics mentioned above, as well as hundreds of other novel novels. After his first volume, Moore's ability to read deeply and bring forgotten novels to the surface was praised by critics and readers alike. His exploration of the novel's formative age is sure to provoke and challenge what we know - or what we think we know - about the history of the novel.
By: Steven Moore