The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature

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Lukács is a thinker and critic widely appreciated in cultural and literary studies of the twentieth century. This book considers the nature and development of the novel and anticipates its development. It is an essay of prophetic vision: Lukács writes: “anyone who wants to become more intimately acquainted with the prehistory of the important ideologies of the [nineteen-] twenties and thirties…will be helped by a critical reading of this book.”

It begins with a comparison of the historic conditions that gave rise to the epic and the novel. In the age of the novel the once known unity between man and his world has been lost and the hero has become an estranged seeker of the meaning of existence. Later Lukács offers a typology of the novel based on whether the hero struggles for a realisation of a meaningful idea, or withdraws from all action. The balance of these extreme forms the third possibility, and each type is exemplified. The book is not a study of artistic technicalities, but of man, history and art tied closely in their development. It is written in a lyrical style well rendered by the translation. – Library Journal

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