The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow to Roberto Bolano's 2666

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 22 Oct 2015
The Maximalist Novel sets out to define a new genre of contemporary fiction that developed in the United States from the early 1970s, and then gained popularity in Europe in the early twenty-first century. The maximalist novel has a very strong symbolic and morphological identity. Ercolino sets out ten particular elements which define and structure it as a complex literary form: length, an encyclopedic mode, dissonant chorality, diegetic exuberance, completeness, narrratorial omniscience, paranoid imagination, inter-semiocity, ethical commitment, and hybrid realism. These ten characteristics are common to all of the seven works that centre his discussion: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Underworld by Don DeLillo, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, and 2005 dopo Cristo by the Babette Factory. Though the ten features are not all present in the same way or form in every single text, they are all decisive in defining the genre of the maximalist novel, insofar as they are systematically co-present. Taken singularly, they can be easily found both in modernist and postmodern novels, which are not maximalist. Nevertheless, it is precisely their co-presence, as well as their reciprocal articulation, which make them fundamental in demarcating the maximalist novel as a genre.
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ISBN-13: 9781501314292
ISBN-10: 1501314297
Pagini: 208
Ilustrații: 3 halftone illus
Dimensiuni: 152 x 229 x 25 mm
Greutate: 0.29 kg
Editura: Bloomsbury Publishing
Colecția Bloomsbury Academic
Locul publicării: New York, United States


Outlines ten features of the maximalist novel, including length, the encyclopedic mode and hybrid realism

Notă biografică

Stefano Ercolino is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy. He taught at Underwood International College, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Manchester, UK, a former Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University, USA, and DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow in the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He is the author of The Maximalist Novel: From Thomas Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" to Roberto Bolaño's "2666" (Bloomsbury, 2014) and The Novel-Essay, 1884-1947 (2014).


List of Figures Acknowledgements The Maximalist NovelIntroduction. Maximalist Paradigms1. "Art of Excess": The Systems Novel2. "A Paradoxical Form": The Mega-Novel3. "In the Eyes of the World": The Modern EpicPart OneChapter I. LengthChapter II. Encyclopedic Mode1. An "Encyclopedic Novel"?2. An Encyclopedic "Genre"?3. The Encyclopedic ModeChapter III. Dissonant Chorality1. Chorality2. PolyphonyMinimalism/MaximalismChapter IV. Diegetic ExuberanceChapter V. Completeness1. Structural Practices of the Maximalist Novel1.1 Circular Geometries1.2 Temporal Architectures1.3 Conceptual Structures1.3.1 Leitmotiv1.3.2 Myth1.3.3 Intertextual FormsChapter VI. Narratorial OmniscienceChapter VII. Paranoid ImaginationInternal Dialectic. Chaos-Function/Cosmos-FunctionPart TwoChapter VIII. Intersemioticity Chapter IX. Ethical Commitment1. "Chemically Troubled Times": Representing AddictionChapter X. Hybrid RealismBibliographyIndex


There have been attempts to define the nebulous genre of 'big books' before, but none so successful or analytically astute . Ercolino has taken full advantage not only of characterizing but also of naming the putative genre of the maximalist novel . I suspect that criticism on big books will soon be filled with references to the 'maximalist novel.' For this we are indebted to Ercolino's study which makes a significant and important contribution to the criticism on late twentieth- and twenty-first century narrative fictions.
Ercolino situates his contribution in response to three competing paradigms for thinking about long narrative works: Tom LeClair's 'systems novel', Franco Moretti's 'world text', and Frederick Karl's 'Mega-Novel'. Moretti's Modern Epic looms perhaps the largest among these three, and one of The Maximalist Novel's greatest strengths is in the way it extends Moretti's classic analysis to incorporate the developments in epic form ushered in by postwar writers . [T]his book makes a valuable contribution to novel theory and should be of interest to readers intent on understanding how the big, ambitious novels of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century work.
Ercolino knows his literary theory; his introduction . . . makes well his case for understanding maximalism as a genre beyond the questions of mastery, encyclopaedism and national identity . . . [and] it is on this theoretical ground that Ercolino's argument is at its strongest
By the 'maximalist novel,' Ercolino means works that possess 'strong morphological and symbolic identity' and are defined by length, encyclopedic mode, dissonant chorality, diegetic exuberance, completeness, narratorial omniscience, paranoid imagination, intersemiocity, ethical commitment, and hybrid realism. Though Ercolino's world is 'hermeneutic frameworks' and 'intersemiocity,' some of his insights are more democratic - not reserved for those with their fingers on the theoretic pulse of Barth and Lyotard [.] Ambitious, systematic, and rigorous, Ercolino excels at close readings of the novels. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty.
The Maximalist Novel offers a thought-provoking overview of its object, and an excellent spur to further research.
Ercolino is persuasive in his conception of the genre ... [and] particularly astute in pursuing the genealogy of each element.
Up to the present, we have had three major attempts to define the chaotic seeming extravaganzas that take the form of doorstop-sized books. Tom LeClair, Frederick R. Karl, and Franco Moretti have laid out conflicting definitions, and Stefano Ercolino offers a splendid, different, and nuanced approach to such challenging texts as David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest and Roberto Bolaño's 2666. He identifies characteristics present to greater or lesser extent in all of the seven novels he discusses, and then analyzes how these characteristics function. Length, encyclopedic mode, dissonant chorality, and diegetic exuberance strain the novelistic conventions and readers' capacities to absorb, while completeness, narratorial omniscience, and paranoid imagination, all help contain or modify the centrifugal impulses. He sees these novels as dynamic balances in which chaotic drives are co-present with cosmic structuring. Where people like Edward Mendelson argued that the point of creating an encyclopedic work was to be encyclopedic for its own sake, Ercolino insists that encyclopedism is a tool, not a goal, even as multiplicity of plots and voices is not in itself a goal but part of the larger dynamic within the organization. In addition to those characteristics, he also discusses inter-semiocity, ethical commitment, and hybrid realism as contributors to these attempts to create totalizing representations of our world. Ercolino writes lucidly, and keeps his chapters short and focused. Particularly interesting is his argument that the maximalist novel is a strong hybrid between novel and epic. Ercolino's study is a good place to start if you want help making sense of a maximalist novel.
The Systems Novel. Mega-Novels. World Fictions. Have these terms and the characterizations they encourage had the effect of removing history and locatedness from our most ambitious literary fictions? To appreciate their significance, Stefano Ercolino urges us to reconsider contemporary fiction within literary history as a whole. A critical project no less ambitious than the big books under discussion,The Maximalist Novel offers new categories and a transatlantic context for current fiction in both its innovative and traditional aspects.
In this ambitious study, Stefano Ercolino persuasively argues that the maximalist novel has developed out of its postmodern American roots to become a vital transnational genre for contemporary Western writers. Ercolino's multilinguism and deep knowledge of an array of national literary traditions allow him to bring into view the formal features that define this new and vibrant genre-an undertaking made all the more interesting by the apparent limitlessness and lawlessness that these novels project. Ercolino is a powerful theorist in his own right. One of the delights of this book is its dialectical engagement with key ideas from the long tradition of novel theory. Drawing from marxist, narratological and new medial studies, Ercolino brings a maximized knowledge of novel theory to his inquiry into the maximalist novel.
The Maximalist Novel is first and foremost a work of literary genre theory . the powerful integration of a meticulous analysis of form with a discussion of the cultural and symbolic reasons behind formal choices is the greatest merit of this work, which also demonstrates the vitality and relevance in today's literary scholarship of what has been (often derogatorily) labeled as "Marxist criticism." . The Maximalist Novel, a thoughtful and acute attempt to define a new generic category, testifies to the liveliness of contemporary scholarship on the novel form, especially in relation to the recently much-debated concept of world literature. Ercolino's critical approach demonstrates that the integration of a rigorous historical understanding with a broad disciplinary framework can help us navigate complex and urgent questions that contemporary novels continue to raise.