Narrative Machine: The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Narrative Machine

The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel, 1st Edition

By Zena Meadowsong


254 pages

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Hardback: 9781138392458
pub: 2018-12-04
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Narrative Machine: The Naturalist, Modernist, and Postmodernist Novel advances a new history of the novel, identifying a crucial link between narrative innovation and the historical process of mechanization. In the late nineteenth century, the novel grapples with a new and increasingly acute problem: In its attempt to represent the colossal power of modern machinery—the steam-driven machines of the Industrial Revolution, the electrical machines of the modern city, and the atomic and digital machines developed after the Second World War—it encounters the limitations of traditional representative strategies. Beginning in the naturalist novel, the machine is typically portrayed as a mythic monster, and though that monster represents a potentially horrific reality—the superhuman power of mechanization—it also disrupts the documentary objectives of narrative realism (the dominant mode of nineteenth-century fiction). The mechanical monster, realistic and yet at odds with traditional realist strategies, tears the form of the novel apart. In doing so, it unleashes a series of innovations that disclose, critique, and contest the force of mechanization: the innovations associated with literary naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism.

Table of Contents


Part I. Naturalism and the Monster Machine

Chapter 1: Zola’s monster machines

Chapter 2: Mechanical monsters in England and America

Chapter 3: The machined aesthetics of Dreiser, Crane, Moore, Wharton, and Gissing

Part II. Modernism versus the Machine

Chapter 4: Lawrence and the monster machine

Chapter 5: Joyce’s utopian machine

Chapter 6: Against the quotidian machine: Woolf, Hemingway, and Proust

Part III. Postmodernism: Living with the Machine

Chapter 7: The new sunshine: Ballard, Vonnegut, and Dick

Chapter 8: The digital and atomic plots of Pynchon and DeLillo

Chapter 9: The machinery of liberation: Georges Perec

About the Author

Zena Meadowsong is an Associate Professor of English at Rowan University, USA.

About the Series

Narrative Theory and Culture

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Comparative Literature
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 19th Century
LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 20th Century