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A revolutionary, entertaining and readable rewriting of the history of the novel.
This edition does not include illustrations.
Margaret Anne Doody challenges the conventional view of the novel, arguing that instead of being an English invention (that is the received wisdom taught in schools and colleges), it is an older, more cosmopolitan creation which emerged from the ancient cultures of Africa, Asia and Europe.
Novels have existed since ancient times – many major works in Greek, Latin, Chinese and Japanese are disclosed and discussed here. Their themes, techniques and styles are analysed and echoes found for modern fiction.
An important book – this is the beginning of the twenty-first century’s understanding of the history of literature.
In a book that thrills like a detective novel, Doody writes prose free of jargon; she is clear, stimulating and entertaining.
‘Rich, imaginative, subversive and playful’
James Wood, Observer
‘An elegant, learned and convincing book’
Mary Beard, Independent
‘Doody, vigorously, entertainingly and with great detailed learning, has invaluably extended the debate about fiction.’
Malcolm Bradbury, Financial Times
‘Doody’s book is like a vast, all-embracing novel, packed with extraordinary sub-narratives and an engrossing storyline. It should be read by all who criticise fiction, and by many who write it.’
Humphrey Carpenter, Sunday Times
About the author
Margaret Anne Doody is Andrew W Mellon Professor of Humanities at Vanderbilt University, USA. She is the author of several books, including the novel Aristotle Detective and a biography of Frances Burney.