Object Lessons: The Novel as a Theory of Reference

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University of Chicago Press, Jul 15, 2016 - Literary Criticism - 195 pages
A major contribution to the theory of realism, Jami Bartlett's book analyzes the processes by which literary language renders objects as real entities. Bartlett's approach is to apply theories of reference in the philosophy of language to interactions between characters and objects in nineteenth-century literature. She addresses a fundamental question of literary realism--how can language evoke that which is not language?--and the ways in which four key English authors answered that question. George Meredith, William Makepeace Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Iris Murdoch probe the relationship between words and objects, and provide--in their descriptions, characterizations, and plots--allegories of language use. Bartlett shows, for example, how the daydreamers of Gaskell's novel Cranford confronted with objects that they will never have access to and lives they will never lead, build semantic associations between familiar and unfamiliar objects that enable them to understand references that they wouldn't otherwise. Concise and clearly written, Object Lessons is destined to become a key work in theory of the novel.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Meredith Ends
34
2 Throwing Things in Thackeray
66
3 Gaskells Lost Objects
102
4 Murdoch and the Monolith
122
Notes
155
Bibliography
169
Index
185
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About the author (2016)

Jami Bartlett is associate professor of English at the University of California, Irvine.

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