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Title: The Pace of Modern Fiction: A History of Narrative Movement in Modernity
Authors: Gingrich, Brian Paul
Advisors: Mitchell, Lee C
Bowlby, Rachel
Contributors: English Department
Keywords: Genette
Narrative Theory
Subjects: Literature
Comparative literature
Modern literature
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: "The Pace of Modern Fiction" lays a foundation for the analysis of narrative pace. I argue, first, that pace can be analyzed in narrative structures and, second, that those structures transform throughout history. I move forward through some of the most transformative moments of pacing in Western prose literature. Chapter One, “Narrative Discourse in History,” defines the scope of the study in terms of a historicist narratology. I take two units of narrative pace—scenes (“shown” slowly) and summaries (“told” swiftly)—and trace them from the late eighteenth into the twentieth century, against the backdrop of a modernity itself characterized by pace. Chapter Two, “Rise of the Scene-and-Summary-Novel,” borrows from the theoretical commentaries of Henry Fielding and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to show how the opposition of epic and drama in the modern novel gives way to a form of scene-and-summary narration that defines much of modern fiction. The next two chapters, “Realist Pace” and “Collapse of the Scenic Method,” turn to analyses of pace in and around nineteenth-century realism. “Realist” pacing places scenes and summaries in dynamic opposition—in Middlemarch they rotate in regular sequence—but in the course of the nineteenth century scenic impulses overtake and eclipse summary. One finds the tendency already in Austen, Balzac, and Hawthorne; but when Flaubert extends scenic vividness to all of his summaries, and when James subordinates his summaries to scenic consciousness, the pressure of scene upon summary drives the opposition of realist pacing to collapse. Chapter Five, “Epiphanic and Everyday Modernisms,” addresses the fate of narrative pace in the wake of that collapse. Through an analysis of James Joyce and epiphanic aesthetics, I explore how pace takes on new force and dynamism in the narratives of Proust, Stein, Woolf, Toomer, Hemingway, Faulkner, and other twentieth-century modernists. Ultimately this study aspires not just to analyze pace, but to uncover the conflict of realisms and modernisms that defines the pace of modern fiction. In this way, I hope to shed some light on the experience that we still refer to, ambivalently, as the pace of modern life.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:English

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