The Rise of the Novel

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University of California Press, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 339 pages
2 Reviews
Praise for the new (2001) edition:

"Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel still seems to me far and away the best book ever written on the early English novel—wise, humane, beautifully organized and expressed, one of the absolutely indispensable critical works in modern literary scholarship. And W. B. Carnochan's brilliant introduction does a wonderful job of showing how Watt's book came into being and changed for good the way the novel in general is taught and understood."—Max Byrd, author of Grant: A Novel

"Ian Watt's The Rise of the Novel remains the single indispensable, absolutely essential book for students of the 18th-century novel."—John Richetti, author of The English Novel in History: 1700-1780

Praise for the original edition:

"A remarkable book. . . . A pioneer work in the application of modern sociology to literature."—Manchester Guardian

"An outstanding contribution to the field of historical sociology and the sociology of knowledge. . . . The author has set the 'rise of the novel' as a new literary genre in the social context of eighteenth-century England, with emphasis on the predominant middle-class features of the period."—American Journal of Sociology

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PhilSyphe - LibraryThing

I bought this as a secondary reading source for an English module I undertook at university. Parts were interesting but on the whole I'm not a fan of this type of work and wouldn't have purchased a copy if it hadn't been on our recommended reading list. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - stillatim - LibraryThing

In some senses, I guess this book is out of date. Watt deals with the most influential early English novelists, while taking care to show that they probably weren't 'Novelists' as we think of them ... Read full review

Selected pages


Realism and the novel form
The reading public and the rise of the novel
Robinson Crusoe individualism and the novel
Defoe as novelist Moll Flanders
Love and the novel Pamela
Private experience and the novel
Richardson as novelist Clarissa
Fielding and the epic theory of the novel
Fielding as novelist Tom Jones
Realism and the later tradition a note

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About the author (2001)

Ian Watt (1917-1999) was Jackson Eli Reynolds Professor of English at Stanford University. W. B. Carnochan is Richard W. Lyman Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at Stanford, where he was a colleague of Ian Watt's for many years.

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