Slideshow Notes/ Lecture Audio (HUM225)

From What is a Novel?:

“To call something ‘realist’ is to confess that it is not the real thing…. Realist art is as much an artifice as any other kind of art…. [R]ealism is calculated contingency. It is the form which seeks to merge itself so thoroughly with the world that its status as art is suppressed. It is as though its representations have become so transparent that we stare straight through them to reality itself. The ultimate representation, so it seems, would be the one which was identical with what it represented. But then, ironically, it would no longer be a representation at all” (10).

Fiction is “a potent source of ideology, since one function of ideology is to present a specific situation as though it were a universal truth” (13). “[N]arrating… involves pattern and continuity but also change and difference. Narrative implies a kind of necessity, as cause and effect, action and reaction, are linked logically to each other. Narrative orders the world into a shape which seems to emerge spontaneously from it” (16).

“What [the novel] reflects most importantly is not the world but the way in which the world comes into being only by our bestowing form and value upon it” (17).

From “Constructing the Subject/ Deconstructing the Text”:

“ideology… not simply a set of illusions but a system of representations (discourses, images, myths) concerning the real relations in which people live.”

1) Illusionism: literary realism is an illusion, a representation of the world– i.e., not the world itself.

2) Closure

3) “a hierarchy of discourse which establishes the ‘truth’ of the story” (664)

“By these means [closure, hierarchy of discourses] classic realism offers the reader a position of knowingness which is also a position of identification with the narrative voice. To the extent that the story first constructs, and then depends for its intelligibility, on a set of assumptions shared between narrator and reader, it confirms both the transcendent knowingness of the reader-as-subject and the ‘obviousness’ of the shared truths in question” (664).

From MacKay’s Glossary:

Free indirect discourse: “when the narration remains in the third-person and past tense, but we recognize the words and thoughts as those of a character even though there is no ‘he said’ or ‘she thought’ to indicate explicitly that the narrative is being filtered through his or her perspective.”

Historical novel: “a fictitious narrative that uses real-life historical personages and events. Sometimes the novel’s purpose is to reflect imaginatively on how and why events happened, but more often is concerned with investigating the relationship between the individual and the society or culture of which he or she is a part. Although the historical novel is concerned with reconstructing a prior period, it is typically more useful as an archive of information about the attitudes of its own time.”

Ideology: “the values underpinning the habits and customs of a particular social group, values so taken-for-granted that they seem self-evidently true and universally applicable, as if they were the natural order of things rather than constructed by and specific to particular cultures. The novel’s traditional relationship to the representation of society makes it a particularly useful archive of unconsciously held beliefs about, e.g., gender, money, labor, love, empire, and class.”