THE DENATURED NOVEL by Albert Von Nostrand


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The basic theme of this book is that, in America, fiction and especially the novel has undergone changes which have drastically altered its essence and purpose and which finally have served to denature it. He begins by discussing bookselling attitudes during the early history of the novel in the U.S. and the various stages in the domestication of the American novel from the point of view of its sales promotion and the attitudes of its publishers and authors. He distinguishes between the ""serious"" novel and ""popular"" fiction and claims that the degree to which the narrative presides over the fiction that contains it is what separates the ""resonant"" (""serious"") novel from the ""denatured"" one. He then provides some examples illustrating the concentration on the narrative aspects of the novel, the shifting of emphasis from an experience to its resolution. He deals with the further alternations American fiction has undergone in the slicks and in Hollywood -- its ""economic attrition"" and he indicts some representative offenders -- the business novel and the war novel. Finally he claims that, the novel, in gradually changing from a dramatically illustrated essay to a dramatic presentation of a limited point of view has resulted in the extremity of mindlessness involving the exit of the author from his own work. Unquestionably an interesting book which, though travelling a different route, finally makes the same complaints as voiced in other criticism of American fiction. Portions of the book have appeared in American Quarterly and The English Journal.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1960
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill