THE TRIUMPH OF THE NOVEL: Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Faulkner by Albert J. Guerard

THE TRIUMPH OF THE NOVEL: Dickens, Dostoevsky, and Faulkner

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Guerard, a prolific novelist and longtime student of the form, finds these three great imaginations linked by a ""saving lack of resistance"" to the extravagant play of inner energies: all manifest a wonderful openness to the strange and even dismaying constituents of their own buried mental lives. A fine thesis--but developed in a congested adagio pomposo of untiringly reiterated self-importance. The readings themselves are erratic. Guerard's treatment of Faulkner is the best, showing how the characteristic difficulties of language and structure result both from sheer exuberant invention and from a deep temperamental evasiveness and irresolution before too--""present"" reality. There is much of merit in his siftings through ""the close relationship between ideology and neurosis"" in Dostoevsky and his rescue of Martin Chuzzlewit from over-abstracted critical approaches. But the best insights lose shape and direction in a mass of over-inflated detail and noisy throat-clearings; the critical categories are not clearly or economically formulated (to the particular detriment of the Dickens sections). One is grateful for much in this book--particularly Guerard's treatment of some individual taboos and obsessions which each novelist avoided, yielded to, or (in Faulkner's case) wrested to triumphant artistic purpose. But more often one remembers an unctuous voice proclaiming, ""I appear to have insisted earlier and more continuously than any other critic on. . .

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press