Traversing time: Novel through ages
Sharing mutual influences literary texts accrete newer compositional techniques and themes to legitimize Mikhael Bakhtin’s assertion that novel “is the sole genre that continues to develop, that is as yet uncompleted.” Even so it is an onerous task to trace a linear graph of its rise through history since its inception in the first half of the eighteenth century, partially because of its growth in multiple spaces at different times and partially because of its varied modes of expression refracting into various styles of narrative technique.
Targeting enhanced readership this genre began by organizing itself around the portrayal of social life and relationships through experimental forms like epistolary and picaresque and then, exploring the labyrinths of historical and gothic romances as well as sentimentality, it imbricated concerns of industrialized and chartered economy with ideas of naturalism, philosophy and aesthetic impressionism that promoted ‘art for art’s sake.’ Beginning of twentieth century saw a generic shift as the novelistic form was appropriated by modernist and avant-garde writers who, undergoing the throes of First World War, questioned the stability of lived human experience entangled within an increasingly absurd and meaningless world. Evolving itself stylistically to capture the immediacy of this experience the modernist novel evolved techniques of stream of consciousness, abstract ideas, free indirect discourse, and non-linear narration among others. The genre further found itself estranged from the conventions of mimetic representation of reality around the period of Second World War where the central subjectivity of the novel was no longer presented as a self-determining individual but merely a conduit through whom the outside forces enact their play by disrupting common place structures of temporality and causality.
From there onwards what came to be known as postmodern fiction started attaining an aesthetic autonomy by a conscious departure from all literary normatives in terms of the position of the author, role of the narratee, fundamental constructs of the narrative, and ways of storytelling to diversify narrative access to the experiential reality that is free from all totalitarian trajectories of interpretation. The traditional forms of authorial expression were exhausted in antinovel or nouveau roman, critifiction, and deferred attempts of language to encapsulate notions of reality through aporia within the literary text as well as in burgeoning of the open ended texts; simultaneously resistance of anticanonical texts from disparate geographies of postmodern world brought forth shifts in concerns about postcolonial narratives and feminist explorations of Freudian and Lacanian formulations of desire and subjectivity.
This issue of LLIDS encourages scholars to contribute papers to widen and reorient our understanding of this genre even further. Following are suggested topics for research papers which can surely be exceeded:
- Fiction and theory
- Intertextuality in fiction through parody, pastiche, allusion, parallelism
- Fiction beyond novel
- Popular fiction
- Death of the author and the death of the subject
- Innovations in the interplay of fabula and syuzhet
- Transitions in novelistic form