This Course is Cross-Listed with English 125C
The novel emerged as the principal literary genre in 19th-century Europe and has continued to dominate the literary market in Europe and North America ever since. What were the constitutive formal elements as well as social and psychological concerns of novelistic narrative in the period of its greatest ascendancy? Focusing on a selection of novels from the German, English, French, and Russian traditions, this course examines the many guises the novel assumed in the process of its becoming, over the course of the 19th century, the central genre within which key social, political, and aesthetic issues of its time could be deliberated.
All novels considered in this course are markedly experimental. Each showcases a different dimension of the novel genre: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) is a sentimental epistolary novel; Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1817), a mock-Gothic novel of manners; Alexander Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin (1823-1831), an ironic and fragmentary novel in verse; Gustave Flaubert’s, Madame Bovary (1856) establishes the model of modern realist narration; and finally Leo Tolstoy’s magisterial historical novel War and Peace (1865-1869) raises crucial questions about the very premises of what it means to be historical and novelistic.
Book List (specified editions are highly recommended; print versions preferred to digital).
Goethe, The Sorrow of Young Werther, trans. David Constantine; Oxford World Classics 978-0199583027
Austen, Northanger Abbey, Penguin Classics, 978-0141439792
Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, trans. James Falen; Oxford University Press, 978-0199538645
Flaubert, Madame Bovary, ed. Margaret Cohen; Norton Critical Editions, 978-0393979176
Tolstoy, War and Peace; trans Louise and Aylmer Maude; Norton Critical Editions, 978-0393966473
Workload/Requirements. Close reading of assigned texts (up to 200 pages per week), regular attendance, short assignments, midterm, one paper, final exam.
No knowledge of Russian required. All readings are done in English. Students who know Russian are encouraged to do at least some reading in Russian.