The True Story of the Novel

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9780006863793: The True Story of the Novel

A revolutionary, entertaining and readable rewriting of the history of the novel. Shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award – one of America’s most important literary prizes

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.

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Review:

‘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

From the Back Cover:

SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

‘This book sets out to prove something worth proving, that the novel is an ancient and protean form, and that criticism which takes no account of this is both insular and misleading…if Doody’s book should become prescribed reading in the English departments of universities, we might at least see a little more imagination in the novels of the next century. If writers took to heart her lesson that the prose fiction of the ancient world has modern relevance, the results could only be beneficial…This is a fascinating and an entertaining book.’
ROBERT NYE, ' The Scotsman'

‘An elegant, learned and convincing book which deals a witty dispatch to much of the nonsense talked about the history of the novel.’
MARY BEARD, 'Independent'

‘Doody’s 'The True Story of the Novel' is itself like a vast, all embracing novel, packed with extraordinary sub narratives and with an engrossing main storyline. It should be read by all those who criticise fiction and by many of those who write it.’
HUMPHREY CARPENTER, 'Sunday Times'

‘Doody’s true story is a rich and imaginative attempt to overturn what she sees as the ‘official’ history of the novel…She has a real case and makes it with intelligence, width and great charm, radicalising the history of the novel.’
JAMES WOOD, 'Observer'

‘With a good deal of passion, Doody, vigorously, interestingly and with great detailed learning has invaluably extended the debate about fiction. She does us a great service. This is a big and wide-ranging book, rich in examples.’
MALCOLM BRADBURY, 'Financial Times'

‘Ranging with sparkling erudition over the whole field of historic romance and the more recent novel, Margaret Anne Doody…does indeed demonstrate, and very impressively, what a seamless garment new novel and old romance have always been.’
JOHN BAYLEY, 'Evening Standard'

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Doody, Margaret
Published by Fontana Press (1997)
ISBN 10: 0006863795 ISBN 13: 9780006863793
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Margaret Doody
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