The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists (Cambridge Companions to Literature)
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In this Companion, leading scholars and critics address the work of the most celebrated and enduring novelists from the British Isles (excluding living writers): among them Defoe, Richardson, Sterne, Austen, Dickens, the Brontës, George Eliot, Hardy, James, Lawrence, Joyce, and Woolf. The significance of each writer in their own time is explained, the relation of their work to that of predecessors and successors explored, and their most important novels analysed. These essays do not aim to create a canon in a prescriptive way, but taken together they describe a strong developing tradition of the writing of fictional prose over the past 300 years. This volume is a helpful guide for those studying and teaching the novel, and will allow readers to consider the significance of less familiar authors such as Henry Green and Elizabeth Bowen alongside those with a more established place in literary history.
Ross (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985). The Works and Correspondence of Samuel Richardson, published by Cambridge University Press under the general editorship of Thomas Keymer and Peter Sabor, is in progress. NOT E S 1 The Rambler, 97, in The Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson, ed. W. J. Bate and Albrecht B. Strauss (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1969), IV, p. 153. 2 Frances Burney to Alexander d’Arblay, 10 October 1822, in The Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney, ed. Joyce Hemlow
think – the world of the putative narrator of Tristram Shandy, who tells us early on that his writing is characterised by ‘rash jerks, and hare-brain’d squirts’: ‘spurting thy ink about thy table and thy books’ (TS, III, xxviii, 254; compare Toby’s wonderful question, a few chapters earlier: ‘are children brought into the world with a squirt?’ (III, xv, 219)). Put another way, life begins with an ejaculation, continues by means of human exchange, some of it thoughtful, most of it by way of
firmly persuaded, that if ever I do a mean action, it must be in some interval betwixt one passion and another’ (ASJ, 44). Like Swift, like Richardson, perhaps like most men, Sterne enjoyed the company of women. We can argue that adultery was more heinous in his day than ours, or less heinous, and probably make a good case on either side, whether we consider Sterne as a husband or a cleric. What really matters, however, is Sterne’s own ambivalence about his wanderings, and our evidence of that is
unworked fragments illustrates Austen’s process, her manner of building on other authors. Even when she did have time to revise, appropriations can occasionally remain inert. In Sense and Sensibility, for instance, the inset tales of Eliza Brandon and her daughter Eliza Williams are twice-told, shrink-lit versions 109 J oc e ly n Ha r r i s of Richardson’s Clarissa (1748) – that repetition of the name ‘Eliza’ is unusually careless. The first Eliza’s flight into a life of sin recalls Lovelace’s
of Ideas, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1975; reprinted 1976 Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and Its Background 1760–1830, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1981 Byrne, Paula, Jane Austen and the Theatre, London and New York, Hambledon Press, 2002 Deresiewicz, William, Jane Austen and the Romantic Poets, New York, Columbia University Press, 2004 Doody, Margaret Anne, ‘Jane Austen’s Reading’, in Jane Austen: Critical Assessments, ed. Ian Littlewood, 4 vols., East Sussex, Helm