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The Rhetoric of Modernist Fiction
From a New Point of View
Morton Levitt

2005 • 218 pp. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism

$30.00 Paperback, 978-1-58465-500-8

“This book is an hommage and a corrective to Wayne Booth. Morton Levitt is committed to modernist fiction as the supreme achievement within the genre; he has a highly teachable... [continued in Reviews below]”—Modern Language Review

A wide-ranging response to The Rhetoric of Fiction.

Though it has been one of the most influential critical works of the last fifty years, Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction has disappointed many readers in its treatment of modernism. Despite Booth’s astute and influential readings of earlier novels, his system shed little light on the experiments in point of view that characterize many more recent works. Despite a revision some two decades after its first publication, the book continues to strike many readers as outdated in its choices of authors and texts.

In a bold updating of that seminal work, Morton P. Levitt, long-time editor of the Journal of Modern Literature, explores the rhetoric of point of view in modernist and post-modernist novels, offering new insights into some of the greatest works of the last century. As the editor of one of the most important journals in the field, Levitt has been uniquely situated to absorb and reflect critically upon the most significant scholarship on modernist fiction. In a series of subtle, persuasive readings, he demonstrates that the rejection of omniscience is one of the defining characteristics of modernist and post-modernist novels.

From Joyce and Woolf to Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, and José Saramago, Levitt discusses a wide range of texts in readings that will be accessible to students and invaluable to scholars.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“This book is an hommage and a corrective to Wayne Booth. Morton Levitt is committed to modernist fiction as the supreme achievement within the genre; he has a highly teachable conception of it, and he discusses the technical aspects of texts observantly and analytically. He also critiques some of the basic terms of art, such as ‘stream of consciousness’, and other troubling expressions such as ‘subjectivity’ and ‘objectivity.’ In these respects his book is a useful adjunct to undergraduate bibliographies.”—Modern Language Review

The Rhetoric of Modernist Fiction is a pleasure to read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys clear prose written by someone who is genuinely excited about literature. This book would probably be most useful, however, to advanced undergraduates or beginning graduate students. In this context, Levitt’s work could be used as both a history of the novel (especially twentieth century) and an introduction to narrative theory. And Levitt’s practical approach will immediately ease the minds of those students who find themselves intimidated by the very mention of ‘theory’’’”—James Joyce Literary Supplement

“[Levitt] emphasizes the significance and payoffs that attend studies. . . . Remarkably attentive close readings . . . are linked to recurrent questions involving the reception of modernism and its concomitant efforts . . . to construct an audience for itself. In arguing for a renewed understanding of point of view as it is developed within modernist fiction in general . . . Levitt reminds us of what it is we ‘go to literature for.’”—James Joyce Quarterly

“Professor Levitt has written the best sequel to Wayne Booth's The Rhetoric of Fiction. It is a fully informed and balanced look at the technique of point of view in modernist fiction. I recommend it highly.”—Daniel T. O'Hara, is Mellon Term Professor of Humanities and Professor of English, Temple University, and author of Empire Burlesque: the Fate of Critical Culture in Global America

“Half-way between a survival kit guiding students through the intricacies of point of view and unreliable narration and the personal itinerary of a scholarly flâneur whose curiosity surveys the whole field of international modernism, A Rhetoric of Modernist Fiction demonstrates that the questions posed by New Criticism half a century ago have not lost their relevance, but need to be updated to participate in a constructive dialogue with current literary theory. Armed with a formidable erudition and a refined sensibility, Mort Levitt makes all the modes of modernist narrative come alive without using the neo-scientific discourse of narratology. What stands out is a clearer view of modernisms groundbreaking techniques and the useful insight that these cannot be divorced from either history or ethics.”—Jean-Michel Rabaté, Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania

For many years, MORTON P. LEVITT was Professor of English at Temple University and editor of the Journal of Modern Literature. He is author of The Modernist Masters: Studies in the Novel; James Joyce and Modernism: Beyond Dublin; and Modernist Survivors: The Contemporary Novel in England, the United States, France, and Latin America, among other works.

Thu, 14 Mar 2019 13:07:53 -0500