Master Narratives: Tellers and Telling in the English Novel by Richard Gravil

By Richard Gravil

Authors whose works are mentioned during this collaborative publication, overlaying a 'long' 19th century, contain Sterne, Fielding, Scott, Austen, Mary Shelley, Emily Brontë, Gaskell, Dickens, George Eliot, Conrad, Woolf, and Lawrence. many of the chapters specialize in a unmarried paintings, between them Tristram Shandy, Wuthering Heights, Bleak condo, Middlemarch and Lord Jim, asking why, in any case, does this novel subject, and what does it invite us to 'see'. The members study points of narrative strategy that are an important to interpretation, and which deliver anything new or unique into fiction. The advent asks no matter if such experimentation could be pushed via demanding situations to society's 'master narratives' - for example, by way of a wish to keep away from the reader's ideological defences - and no matter if, in a thorough version of canon-formation, such narrative innovation should be a side of canonicity.

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74). 566), and it is this reader who supplies the ‘underwritten fragment’ that appears in the salacious ‘chapter on Whiskers’. 372), he is not so much rationalizing the disappearance of several manuscript pages as he is signalling his own work’s completion in his reader. In other words, the dashes, gaps and lapses that litter the reader’s visual field may easily be construed as bids for an empty, anti-historical status that ironically anticipates postmodern conventions of representation. But just as Tristram resolutely imagines ‘imperfec[t]’ words as completed only in relation to a body linked sympathetically to other bodies, so does the fragmentary structure of his book leave space for his reader to animate it.

4. Unsigned review in Critical Review 9 (January 1760), 73; unsigned review in Royal Female Magazine 1 (February 1760), 56. 5. History is famously defined as ‘a great chain of events’ in David Hume, Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, in Essays and Treatises on Several Subjects (London, 1755), 254. Master Narratives 37 purport to chart the progress of individual lives, and thus cast themselves as the ‘History’ of one English person or another – Tom Jones, Betsy Thoughtless, even Richardson’s inimitable ‘young lady’, Clarissa Harlowe.

Tristram (and Sterne behind him) for this reason never allows us to forget that we are reading a book, or that he is writing one. He often does so simply by foregrounding the materiality of the literary text, ever reminding us that Tristram Shandy is literally no ‘Life’ but only a collection of typographical marks on a page. Although Yorick’s sermons, riddled with retractions and deviations, fall out of someone else’s book and are cut into strips, just as Tristram accidentally burns some of his own manuscript, written texts are also imagined as replacements for the fragile human body that produces them.

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