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The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts

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The articles with which David Lodge entertained and delighted readers of the Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post are now revised, expanded, and collected together in book form. The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is The articles with which David Lodge entertained and delighted readers of the Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post are now revised, expanded, and collected together in book form. The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is illustrated by a passage or two taken from classic or modern fiction. Drawing on writers as diverse as Henry James and Martin Amis, Jane Austen and Fay Weldon and Henry Fielding and James Joyce, David Lodge makes accesible to the general reader the richness and variety of British and American fiction. Technical terms, such as Interior Monologue, Metafiction, Intertextuality and the Unreliable Narrator, are lucidly explained and their applications demonstrated. Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own novels, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspiring writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works. 'Here is scholarship made human...There has been no better populist study of fiction since Forster's Aspects of the Novel' - Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times 'Agreeable and highly instructive...a real treat" - David Robson in the Sunday Telegraph 'His texts are useful, unpretentious, accessible...The Art of Fiction is a book for dipping, a book for starting up trains of thought or discussion' - A.S. Byatt in the Sunday Times


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The articles with which David Lodge entertained and delighted readers of the Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post are now revised, expanded, and collected together in book form. The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is The articles with which David Lodge entertained and delighted readers of the Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post are now revised, expanded, and collected together in book form. The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is illustrated by a passage or two taken from classic or modern fiction. Drawing on writers as diverse as Henry James and Martin Amis, Jane Austen and Fay Weldon and Henry Fielding and James Joyce, David Lodge makes accesible to the general reader the richness and variety of British and American fiction. Technical terms, such as Interior Monologue, Metafiction, Intertextuality and the Unreliable Narrator, are lucidly explained and their applications demonstrated. Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own novels, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspiring writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works. 'Here is scholarship made human...There has been no better populist study of fiction since Forster's Aspects of the Novel' - Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times 'Agreeable and highly instructive...a real treat" - David Robson in the Sunday Telegraph 'His texts are useful, unpretentious, accessible...The Art of Fiction is a book for dipping, a book for starting up trains of thought or discussion' - A.S. Byatt in the Sunday Times

30 review for The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nandakishore Varma

    Literary criticism is often daunting for a novice. I have ploughed through a lot of serious critical tomes in my life (most of them in Malayalam) to enhance my reading experience, but I must confess that I have been only partly successful: many of those erudite essays were way over my head. And when it comes to literary theory, I must shamefacedly say that I have still not understood the difference between “Classicism”, “Modernism” and “Post-Modernism”. Any mention of “Deconstruction” is enough Literary criticism is often daunting for a novice. I have ploughed through a lot of serious critical tomes in my life (most of them in Malayalam) to enhance my reading experience, but I must confess that I have been only partly successful: many of those erudite essays were way over my head. And when it comes to literary theory, I must shamefacedly say that I have still not understood the difference between “Classicism”, “Modernism” and “Post-Modernism”. Any mention of “Deconstruction” is enough to have me heading for the high hills! And even though I can write a grammatically correct sentence without help, the mention of “synedoche”, “metonymy” and the like makes me go weak in the knees. However, as an avid reader, I am always interested in knowing what makes great literature work. What magic do these wordsmiths have, which we ordinary mortals lack, which makes us go to them again and again? It has been my dream to find a critic who would explain the tricks of the trade in simple terms for me – a dream which was realised through the above book. In The Art of Fiction, popular novelist David Lodge explains the tools of the writer’s craft in simple English. It comprises fifty short articles, originally published as pieces in a newspaper column. Instead of quoting theory, Lodge takes one or two novels as example and uses them to illustrate particular aspects of writing good fiction. Fittingly, he begins with “Beginning” and ends with “Ending”! Some of the aspects Lodge describes are common to all fiction (beginning, ending, point of view, introducing a character, suspense) while some deal with specific techniques writers use (stream of consciousness, interior monologue, repetition, defamiliarisation, time-shift): yet other chapters introduce us to schools of writing (Magical Realism, Surrealism). There are also interesting chapters on titles (I never really pondered on how much authors sweat over these!), the use of lists in stories, and the possibilities of the telephone. I found every one of them fascinating. The author quotes from the story he is going to discuss at the beginning of each chapter, which passage is then analysed. This analysis is used as a springboard for jumping into wider aspects of the subject. Before one knows, one is engrossed in the analysis; and in the case of the stories one has read, it creates the classic “aha!” reaction – like seeing the secret behind a magic trick. And it also gives one the chance to ruminate on the same technique used by different authors (for example, Lodge’s analysis of the time-shifts in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie immediately had me comparing it with A Visit from the Goon Squad, a novel written entirely based on this technique). Newton said: “Genius is one per cent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” The same can be said of literature. The author’s inspiration, without the proper craft to package it, often falls flat. This book gives us an introduction that hallowed craft of the great writers; it also illustrates the fact that one can’t separate the subject from the form in case of great writing, for the novelist chooses the form of his story based on what he wants to convey. David Lodge introduced me to that craft in a very accessible way – and he has also inspired me to read the greats with a greater appreciation for their technique. If you are a book-nerd like me without much knowledge of the workings of the great literary machine, this book is for you. Review also on my Blog .

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts, David Lodge The Art of Fiction is a book of literary criticism by the British novelist David Lodge. The chapters of the book first appeared in 1991-1992 as weekly columns in The Independent on Sunday and were eventually gathered into book form and published in 1992. The essays as they appear in the book have in many cases been expanded from their original format. Lodge focuses each chapter upon one aspect of the art of fiction, The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts, David Lodge The Art of Fiction is a book of literary criticism by the British novelist David Lodge. The chapters of the book first appeared in 1991-1992 as weekly columns in The Independent on Sunday and were eventually gathered into book form and published in 1992. The essays as they appear in the book have in many cases been expanded from their original format. Lodge focuses each chapter upon one aspect of the art of fiction, comprising some fifty topics. Every chapter also begins with a passage from classic or modern literature that Lodge feels embodies the technique or topic at hand. Some of the topics Lodge analyzes are Beginning (the first chapter), The Intrusive Author, The Epistolary Novel, Magic Realism, Irony and Metafiction. Among the authors he quotes in order to illustrate his points are Jane Austen, J. D. Salinger, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Martin Amis, F. Scott Fitzgerald and even himself. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز نهم ماه فوریه سال 2013 میلادی عنوان: هنر داستان‌نویسی: با نمونه‌ هایی از متن‌های کلاسیک و مدرن؛ نویسنده: دیوید لاج؛ مترجم: رضا رضایی؛ تهران، نشر نی، 1388، چاپ دوم 1391، 424 ص؛ شابک: 9789641851028؛ کتابنامه از ص 387 تا ص 391؛ موضوع: نظریه و هنر داستان نویسی از نویسندگان انگلیسی - سده 20 م هنر داستان‌ نویسی، درباره‌ ی شیوه‌ ها، و شگردهای داستان‌نویسی، به قلم: دیوید لاج، انگلیسی، که یکی از بزرگ‌ترین نقادان دوران کنونی هستند، میباشد. دیوید لاج، که از چهره‌ های ممتاز نقد داستان، به‌ شمار می‌روند، در پنجاه فصل، به موضوع‌ها و مبحث‌هایی پرداخته است، که در عالم داستان‌ نویسی، و داستان‌ خوانی، اهمیت بسیار دارند، و هر نویسنده، و خوانشگر داستانها، باید با آن‌ها، آشنایی داشته باشد. نمونه مثال‌ها، و بررسی‌ها، در این کتاب، بر کم و بیش: دویست متن داستانی کلاسیک، و مدرن، مبتنی‌ هستند، که بیشتر آن‌ها متن مرجع، به‌ شمار می‌آیند. خوانشگران نیز، از خوانش کتاب لذت بسیار خواهند برد، و با فوت و فن‌ها، آشنا خواهند شد، و پدیده‌ ای به نام: «رمان» را، در چشم‌ اندازی گسترده تر خواهند شناخت. این کتاب برای خوانشگران و نویسندگان، به نوعی: کارگاه داستان‌ نویسی، و داستان‌ خوانی، است. ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

    The very fact that the book has compelled me to put down my thoughts here when I've barely finished reading a quarter of it should reflect on how much a wonderful read it is. What David Lodge has done is quite simple - he has chosen a variety of styles in fiction eg intrusive author, unreliable narrator, suspense, symbolism, magical realism, interior monologue etc and illustrated each of them with a passage taken from a well known book with a succinct missive to go with them. The beauty of the The very fact that the book has compelled me to put down my thoughts here when I've barely finished reading a quarter of it should reflect on how much a wonderful read it is. What David Lodge has done is quite simple - he has chosen a variety of styles in fiction eg intrusive author, unreliable narrator, suspense, symbolism, magical realism, interior monologue etc and illustrated each of them with a passage taken from a well known book with a succinct missive to go with them. The beauty of the book is in its discretion and economy, making it easier to relate it to a lay reader ( by which I mean a reader who had the fortune of escaping the painful literary expositions of neurotic university professors). Consider these chapters - Interior Monologue, Stream of Consciousness, Symbolism - as I think of these literary techniques, left to myself, I would have choosen Edouard Dujardin, James Joyce and Scott Fitzgerald, but then I realise how wrong my choices would be, because these chaps almost master and monopolise their respective techniques, thereby rendering themselves a poorer example for an average lay reader. Then as you read the simple missives, you see why David Lodge's choices are James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and DH Lawrence! I gather these chapters appeared as weekly articles in the Independent in the 90s. I could easily picture myself religiously waiting for the articles every week, so that I could cut them off for my collection. Well, with the book, I guess that would be unnecessary.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lea

    This book from the 90s is a collection of short columns about fiction, with topics like "the ending", "structure of a novel", "the title", etc. Each column/essay is only a few pages long and is centered around an abstract from a piece of literary fiction, mostly novels. For a book on literary critique it's rather easy to read, also because the short sections aren't linked in any way. You don't need a long attention span. On the other hand, I found the book rather superficial. I'd hoped to maybe This book from the 90s is a collection of short columns about fiction, with topics like "the ending", "structure of a novel", "the title", etc. Each column/essay is only a few pages long and is centered around an abstract from a piece of literary fiction, mostly novels. For a book on literary critique it's rather easy to read, also because the short sections aren't linked in any way. You don't need a long attention span. On the other hand, I found the book rather superficial. I'd hoped to maybe learn a bit more that I could use for my own writing, and I didn't. There's just not a lot of substance, and a lot of the columns are rather like "titles: have you ever considered how important a title might be for a story? because it is!" but with a nicer flow and some more intellectual words thrown in. It's not bad as an introduction to the topics maybe, and it was an okay read, but a bit superfluous.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Smiley

    When I first picked it up some months ago and browsed some pages inside, I didn't want to read it due to its seemingly formidable technical terms in 50 headings but I later changed my mind due to its affirmation as follows, "Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own words, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspirant writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works." (back cover) Moreover, Professor Lodge's fame and contribution as When I first picked it up some months ago and browsed some pages inside, I didn't want to read it due to its seemingly formidable technical terms in 50 headings but I later changed my mind due to its affirmation as follows, "Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own words, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspirant writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works." (back cover) Moreover, Professor Lodge's fame and contribution as a university academic as well as a highly-acclaimed novelist himself have impressed me; his novels include The Picturegoers (1960), The British Museum is Falling Down (1965), Out of the Shelter (1970), to name but a few. His Changing Places (1975) was awarded the Hawthornden Prize and the Yorkshire Post Fiction Prize; Nice Work won the 1988 Sunday Express Book of the Year Award; Paradise News (1991) was regional winner and finalist for the 1996 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, and more. (p. i) I found reading this book arguably rewarding and challenging due to his narratives tinged with appropriate examples; however, I wouldn't claim I understood all he said there, rather I left a number of highly-technical points at that for those who know to digest since I need time to reflect on some issues as far as I can and hope someone out there with his/her charismatic wisdom could shed me some glimpses of light when the time comes. As we can see from the title, it deals with the art of fiction covering 50 headings (sections as mentioned by Dr Lodge, I wonder if there are more); each one being immediately presented by an exemplified text from a novelist and his/her work. This implies we should read from our familiar novelists and novels first, one of the reasons is that it is easier and more manageable to read about what we have read written by our favorite novelists. In retrospect, I found reading the following 27 headings, their texts, the novelists and the novels twice harder because I had never read them: 1 Beginning (Jane Austen, Ford Maddox Ford) 3 Suspense (Thomas Hardy) 5 The Epistolary Novel (Michael Frayn) 6 Point of View (Henry James) 8 Names (David Lodge, Paul Aster) 12 The Sense of Place (Martin Armis) 14 Introducing a Character (Christopher Isherwood) 15 Surprise (William Makepeace Thackeray) 17 The Reader in the Text (Laurence Sterne) 22 The Experimental Novel (Henry Green) 24 Magic Realism (Milan Kundera) 25 Staying on the Surface (Malcolm Bradbury) 26 Showing and Telling (Henry Fielding) 27 Telling in Different Voices (Fay Weldon) 28 A Sense of the Past (John Fowles) 31 Allegory (Samuel Butler) 33 Coincidence (Henry James) 38 Surrealism (Leonora Carrington) 39 Irony (Arnold Bennett) 40 Motivation (George Eliot) 41 Duration (Donald Barthelme) 42 Implication (William Cooper) 43 The Title (George Gissing) 44 Ideas (Anthony Burgess) 45 The Non-Fiction Novel (Thomas Carlyle) 46 Metafiction (John Barth) 48 Narrative Structure (Leonard Michaels) As for the remaining 23 I would leave them for those readers interested in tasting themselves as they like since it's time consuming and not challenging to do all; therefore, I would say something on a heading based on the accompanied text with three queries: 1) What does the heading mean? 2) Why is it an art of fiction? and 3) How does it play a role in the exemplary extract taken from the fiction? The one I mean is No. 35 The Exotic, its two-paragraph excerpt has been taken from Graham Greene's The Heart of the Matter (1948) followed by the author's five-paragraph, nearly three-page text. Now I would try to find the answers from the text itself. 1) By "exotic", the author means foreign, not necessarily glamorous or alluring. (p. 159) 2) Since "the exotic in fiction is the mediation of an "abroad" to an audience assumed to be located at "home"" (p. 159); therefore, it has primarily been adopted as an art in fiction by means of depicting anything exotic, that is, things naturally or physically different from what the novelists have long been familiar in their motherland. Moreover, it's interesting to read/hear him mention imperialism, its aftermath and exotic settings inevitably narrated especially in British novels in the last 150 years. To continue . . .

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ian Laird

    David Lodge’s book has made me think differently about my reading: indeed to read differently. Lodge examines aspects of approach and technique authors use to enhance our understanding of what they do to tell their fictional stories. He does not deconstruct so much as analyse the angles we can use to understand and appreciate fiction. And he provides some telling examples. He talks about, among other things: beginning, ending, the intrusive author, the stream of consciousness approach, place, David Lodge’s book has made me think differently about my reading: indeed to read differently. Lodge examines aspects of approach and technique authors use to enhance our understanding of what they do to tell their fictional stories. He does not deconstruct so much as analyse the angles we can use to understand and appreciate fiction. And he provides some telling examples. He talks about, among other things: beginning, ending, the intrusive author, the stream of consciousness approach, place, weather, time–shifting, staying on the surface, the telephone, irony, motivation and symbolism. Because I read it gradually I was able to take in the different points as he makes them, dipping in and out of the text. Given also that it is a little time since I read it and I have completed a number of novels since then, the lessons in Lodge’s book have stayed with me. A lot of this stuff I knew already, at least on a sub-conscious level. Articulating it raises the matters to a conscious level. So what did I learn? Lots: • Names: an author chooses names carefully they ‘are never neutral’. They can be comic (Pumblechook), or realistic (Emma Woodhouse). Just recently I read a world war two spy story, Restless by William Boyd, where one the ambiguous characters, always on the move, was named Romer (= roamer = restless). It’s a bit of a clue. Dickens did it all the time: witness the hard man Mr Murdstone and the obsequious Uriah Heep from David Copperfield. My favourite example, not from Lodge’s book, is Ian Fleming’s choice for his spy hero. He had a book of his shelf at his home Golden Eye in Jamaica called A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies, by ornithologist James Bond, published in 1936. Fleming wanted a plain simple name. A spy is born. • Magic realism is principally practised by authors who have experienced national upheavals. • There are different ways of telling a story, different voices to use, you can reference other works (intertextuality) and you can use repetitive prose, plain or fancy prose. • Co-incidence can be used to bring characters together and to tie events. It tends to feature more in the comic world than the more serious work. Throughout the book Lodge uses good examples (Austen, Hemmingway, Bennett, Eliot) and sometimes his own novels, which has the advantage of the author knowing exactly what the creator of his illustration was trying to achieve. I recently read a Biggles book, Biggles Goes to War, and paused to wonder why I liked it and what its enduring appeal might be, it is after all a book written for boys a very long time ago and contains outdated attitudes, is touchingly naïve and follows a pattern immediately familiar to readers of Captain WE Johns' series. Biggles and his loyal comrades come to the rescue of a small mythical European principality being monstered by a bullying neighbour, by shooting down enemy aircraft, blowing up a bridge, rescuing a diplomat and generally interfering in the politics of the warring states. In Lodge’s terms though, the author gives us a sense of place, an exotic one, he changes our point of view, shifts time, use co-incidence (quite a bit) and tellingly, gives us the motivation of the characters. For me the daring–do is pleasing enough but it is the doubts, apprehensions and anticipated difficulties in our hero’s head that make the story worthwhile and transcend its original purpose of spinning a yarn for the boys of pre-war Britain.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Caroline

    I'm not in the mood for fiction at the moment - I know, that is a ridiculously sweeping thing to say, but really I'm not. I had hoped that in reading this basic introduction to literary criticism that I might have a surge of wonder and excitement, see all that I was missing, and rush out and bury myself in a novel. It was not to be. I huffed and puffed my way from chapter to chapter, feeling irritated and disgruntled. Firstly by the extracts from various novels - none of which appealed - and then I'm not in the mood for fiction at the moment - I know, that is a ridiculously sweeping thing to say, but really I'm not. I had hoped that in reading this basic introduction to literary criticism that I might have a surge of wonder and excitement, see all that I was missing, and rush out and bury myself in a novel. It was not to be. I huffed and puffed my way from chapter to chapter, feeling irritated and disgruntled. Firstly by the extracts from various novels - none of which appealed - and then by the analysis of each piece. It all felt flat and boring, and either difficult to understand, or blindingly obvious. (Yes, I was feeling that ratty.) I did learn a bit though, so there is therefore a second star in my rating. I am just grateful that in this amazing universe of books there is something for everyone, and the world of fiction will be ready and waiting for when I am once again in the mood. I feel it relevant to mention that most other reviews for this book are incredibly complimentary. I think a lot of my negativity just comes from my current reading preferences.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Fonch

    The first of all, that i must say before that i write my review is saying, that "Art of fiction" was written by David Lodge. It is not a bad book. If "Art of fiction" had been a bad book i would have rated with two, or one star. I must recognise, that David Losdge writes rather well, and he is a perfect Professor of Literary Theory. The topics, which he speaks are well chosen. It is a good point the division of the chapters in fifty chapters. The book is really good translated to spanish. In my The first of all, that i must say before that i write my review is saying, that "Art of fiction" was written by David Lodge. It is not a bad book. If "Art of fiction" had been a bad book i would have rated with two, or one star. I must recognise, that David Losdge writes rather well, and he is a perfect Professor of Literary Theory. The topics, which he speaks are well chosen. It is a good point the division of the chapters in fifty chapters. The book is really good translated to spanish. In my opinion the problem of this book is that some writers, that David Lodge has chosen writers that i like to me very much. All writers of the 19th century, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, Graham Greene, Anthony Burgess (in my opinion is more than the writer of "Orange clockworth. Reverte that he is not catholic loves "Earthly Powers"). Despite not being catholic other writers interest to me really much. I am thinking in the anglo-japanese writer Kazuo Ishiguro not reliable narrator. In my shelve i have dead of sadness his novel "The buried giant". Other writers i have not any problems to read for instance William Golding. The disadvantage of this essay is that some writers who choose David Lodge made me sick (i thought that being culturally catholic Lodge would have other references as Evelyn Waugh, but i see that weight more in his heart Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce). In the case of Virginia Woolf (the woman, who accussed Maurice Baring of being irrelevant). In my opinion the irrelevant is her. And her stream of consciousness does not impress to me. James Joyce Ok. i have read his "Dubliners" and it is Ok. But he is one of the most overrated writers of our planet. His "Ulyssess" is a headache to read it :-( (i bet with my father 60 euros that i read it. The book continue in my Shelve). In other case Lodge persuades to me not reading authors that i had in my shelve. I am thinking in Angela Carter whom i expeled of my shelve, and more after David Lodge saying about her and her mates Fay Weldon, and Leanore Cattington (i preffer the Leanore of the Raven). Martin Amis made me to have an instinctive antipathy. Fowles is not a bad writer, but his private life scare away to me. The plot of Malcolm Bradbury`s novel reject to me that the same poles of a magnet. The beggining of "Lolita" is briliant, but we must not forget that it is the story of an incest, pedrastian, a murder. About D.H. Lawrence he had the luck to be borned in England in other country, where the sex had not been taboo he would have died of starving. In France he had been other pornography writer. Lawrence saved because the society of his time was very puritan. Besides there are writers, who write better than him. I thought in the writer Megan Maxwell. The main problem of this book is that this book surrended to the political correction. We are slaves of the critics, who raised these writers to the secular shrine. I missed more names G.K. Chesterton (in words of Paul Johnson he was expelled of the English writers as the fairies, and Elves, despite being the master of Kafka, Karel Capek, or Borges) i missed Tolkien, I missed Maurice Baring, i missed Robert Hugh Benson, Nancy Mitford, Sheila Kaye Smith, Somerset Maugham the list is incredibly long. For this reason the literary guides are not infallible. They can help us, but they are not the Holy Bible. We must find a balance between the critics, and the popular taste (because it has not ever the public taste is the best. Our age is the bitter fruit and the evidence that i say it. It is true). The thing is looking for the blessed an aristotlelic middle point. Perhaps for somebody my review might be very hard, but the lecture of Benjamin Dexter/Graham Greene in "The third man" is harder than my review, and the fair anger of the spanish writer Juan Manuel de Prada in his last novel "White blackbird, black swan", where at the beggining of his novel he whips to the authors aclaimed by the critics. They are bored, i fear it. I want to conclude my review lighting to the Goodreads Users, saying something good. I love the references of David Lodge to their novels, and i recomend "Art of fiction" to future writers. However continue trusting in their favorite writers. Nobody speak about Mika Waltari, Louis de Wohl, and Maxence van der Meersch, and i love them. The proffessor of a friend said to her "That we were the fruit of our fantasies". ............................................................................................................................................................................ Lo primero de todo, que debo decir antes de empezar esta crítica es decir, que "El arte de la ficción" de David Lodge. No es un mal libro. Si lo fuera no le habría puesto tres estrellas, sino una estrella, o dos. Debo reconocer, que David Lodge escribe muy bien, y es un profesor de Teoría Literaria muy competente. Los temas, que trata están muy bien escogidos, así como también es un acierto la división, que ha hecho en 50 capítulos. El libro, está muy bien traducido. A mí modo de ver el problema del libro es que algunos escritores me gustaban los del siglo XIX, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark, Graham Greene, Anthony Burgess. Otros pese a no ser católico tengo interés por leerles, como Kazuo Ishiguro. Ahí tengo en mi estantería muerto de aburrimiento "El gigante enterrado". Otros no me incomodaba leerles como William Golding. El talón de aquiles de Lodge es que muchos de los escritores de David Lodge me producen abierta repulsión. Pienso en Virginia Woolf (la mujer, que acusó a Maurice Baring de ser superficial). Es curioso, pero a mí es ella la que me parece superficial, y su flujo de la conciencia. No me inspira mucho confianza. James Joyce vale que le he leído, y aprobé sus "Dublineses" (que son correctitos), pero es que uno de los escritores más sobrevalorados del planeta, y su "Ulises" es un dolor de cabeza leerlo. En algunos casos el libro de Lodge, me ha disuadido de leer a otros escritores que tenía en mi estantería pienso en Angela Carter, a la que he apartado de mi estantería, después de lo que dice Lodge de ella, y de sus compañeras Fay Weldon, y Eleonora Cattington. Martin Amis es un escritor, que inspira en mí una antipatía instintiva. Fowles no sería un mal escritor el problema es que su vida privada me retrae. El argumento de la novela de Macolm Bradbury me repelía como un imán. Estoy de acuerdo que el arranque de Nabokov es brillante, pero no nos engañemos es la historia de una pedrastia, un incesto, y un asesinato. Que voy a decir de D.H. Lawrence, que tuvo la suerte de nacer en Inglaterra si hubiera nacido en una sociedad, que se escandalizase menos del sexo se hubiera muerto de hambre. Lo que le salvó fue el puritanismo de la sociedad en la que vivía. En Francia hubiera sido un escritor más de literatura pornográfica, y no se le consideraría una figura para este tipo de literatura pueden leer a mi amiga Megan Maxwell, que lo hace mejor, que Lawrence. Ahí está el problema del libro, que se ha rendido a la corrección política, y ha elevado a los altares a los ad lateres proclamados por los popes y críticos que han modelado el pensamiento del siglo XX (por desgracia). Se echan de menos nombres, que eran muy populares, aunque hoy no nos digan nada el gran G.K. Chesterton (en palabras de Paul Johnson relegado y expulsado de las universidades británicas, pese a ser el maestro de Kafka, K. Capek, y Jorge Luis Borges). Echó de menos a J.R.R. Tolkien, echó de menos al valiente Baring. Echó de menos a Robert Hugh Benson. Echó de menos a Nancy Mitford, echó de menos a Sheila Kaye Smith. Echó de menos que se tratase otras novelas de Burgess. Echó de menos a Somerset Maugham, y a tantos otros. Por eso yo pienso, que las guías literarias pueden ayudarnos, pero no son la Biblia, ni tienen la infalibilidad. Creo, que hay que buscar un equilibrio entre la crítica, y los gustos populares (porque no siempre lo que le gusta al público es bueno, y prueba de ello es lo que compra actualmente). La cosa está en buscar el bendito, y aristotélico punto medio. A Algunos les podrá parecer duro mi análisis, pero no menos duro, que la conferencia que BenjaminDexter/GrahamGreene pronunció contra sus contemporáneos en el "Tercer hombre", ni la justa ira de mi adorado Juan Manuel de Prada en su brillante novela "Mirlo blanco, cisne negro", dónde al principio fustiga a los autores consagrados por la crítica actual, y que son aburridísimos, me temo. Con todo quiero finalizar mi crítica insuflando un poco de luz (diciendo algo bueno) me gusta las acotaciones de David Lodge a sus novelas, y recomiendo leer este libro a futuros escritores en ciernes. Con todo sigan confiando en sus escritores predilectos. Ya nadie habla de Mika Waltari, Louis de Wohl, o Maxence van der Meersch, y a mí me encantan. Como diría el profesor de una amiga mía "somos el fruto de nuestras fantasías".

  9. 4 out of 5

    Stela

    No wonder The Art of Fiction is mandatory in the bibliography of many Literature (101) students. It explains beautifully, by analyzing excerpts from various masterpieces, essential notions of literary theory and criticism. Even if its 50 sections were initially written for a weekly newspaper column, and with the declared intention to be comprehensible to a general public, "The Art of Fiction" introduces the basic notions for anyone who intends to lose the innocence of reading and become a critic No wonder The Art of Fiction is mandatory in the bibliography of many Literature (101) students. It explains beautifully, by analyzing excerpts from various masterpieces, essential notions of literary theory and criticism. Even if its 50 sections were initially written for a weekly newspaper column, and with the declared intention to be comprehensible to a general public, "The Art of Fiction" introduces the basic notions for anyone who intends to lose the innocence of reading and become a critic en herbe. Somehow ironically dull, the book begins with the Beginning, and ends, of course with the Ending, both chapters presenting various ways to introduce and finish a story. In between, we learn about narrative voices, about the form and the structure, the time and the space, the language, the plot and so on, as we did (and forgot!) in high school and college. I liked a lot of text analyses and, as always, I enjoyed reading Lodge, but I have to confess I'm familiar with many of the notions presented. However, I've learnt some, too: - that you can use the term "skaz" "to designate a type of first-person narration that has the characteristics of the spoken rather than the written word." (The Catcher in the Rye is an example); - that another term for poetic prose is fancy prose; - that there is a form of intertextuality named "missed opportunity" (a piece of information that would have suited a novel had it been discovered while writing it); - that there is an experimental novel named Alphabetical Africa in which the first chapter contains only words that begin with a, the second with b, a, the third c, b, a etc., and so on until z, and then back until a again; - that Paul Eluard could have saved the life of the surrealist Czech poet Zavis Kalandra but he refused to intervene. On the other hand, I don't think I'm too comfortable with the term "non-fiction novel", which is very oxymoronic (to use an euphemism for contradiction in terms) even if it was coined by Truman Capote, and I perfectly understand his reasons. Anyway, I prefer Tom Wolfe's "new journalism" to describe this type of novel. I was amused discovering that I had already spotted many of the tricks David Lodge reveals he used in his own novels. Overall, as usual, and I repeat myself, I love the critic Lodge as much as I love the novelist. And of course, my to-read list is longer now, including Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Fay Weldon, Female Friends, Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day, Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust, and Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable. P.S. More than five years later, I'm proud to say that I read all the books above and not a single one was disappoining, au contraire.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Helle

    I’m taking another online course at Oxford University (continuing education) this fall, and one of the books we have to read for the course is this one. I knew of David Lodge already but have never read anything by him. I love reading literary critique, or whatever you would call this compilation of extracts analyzed with different literary perspectives, especially when the author of the book is also a writer and can thus appreciate and not merely analyze the texts. The book is a relatively I’m taking another online course at Oxford University (continuing education) this fall, and one of the books we have to read for the course is this one. I knew of David Lodge already but have never read anything by him. I love reading literary critique, or whatever you would call this compilation of extracts analyzed with different literary perspectives, especially when the author of the book is also a writer and can thus appreciate and not merely analyze the texts. The book is a relatively small paperback, very accessible due to the short chapters and the lack of too much jargon, and very readable. It was useful and interesting the way in which Lodge delved into a multitude of aspects, some of which I had expected (like characters, point of view, suspense, the sense of place) but some which I hadn’t thought much about (like lists, coincidence, the telephone). (I did wonder why he didn’t have a chapter about dialog, expecting an extract from a Hemingway short story or something). I enjoyed how he often put the texts he used into a literary/historical context, and of course I particularly enjoyed the sections where I had actually read the novels he referred to (e.g. by Austen, Waugh, Dickens, Forster), though thankfully he almost never refers to any obscure authors I didn’t know. Having said this, one thing annoyed me – on several occasions, namely that he couldn’t suppress the urge to include his own work, sometimes in chapters alongside some of the Great Authors. This irked me because surely he could have found a dozen other works to illustrate some of those points (although, granted, it gave us an insider’s perspective, but still). I just basically feel that if you’ve written or otherwise done something pretty brilliant or noteworthy, it’s up to someone else to point it out, not you. The book is from 1992 so there aren’t any very recent examples, through no fault of Lodge’s obviously, but I’d like to read something like this which might also include extracts by authors like Barnes and McEwan, or Rowling for that matter, although I do appreciate that most of the works he refers to here (apart from his own – sic!) could be considered classics of more or less international standard.

  11. 4 out of 5

    N.J. Ramsden

    I've dipped into this many times during my days of teaching Creative Writing, not to use as a foundation for classes so much as backup material, or the illumination of sidelines. Lodge covers pretty good ground, and though his selection of texts is reasonable, it's not exciting – and while he's on top of his material, and his analyses of his chosen pieces are astute, again there's a kind of safety to much of it that renders these essays informative and interesting, but not exactly inspiring. If I've dipped into this many times during my days of teaching Creative Writing, not to use as a foundation for classes so much as backup material, or the illumination of sidelines. Lodge covers pretty good ground, and though his selection of texts is reasonable, it's not exciting – and while he's on top of his material, and his analyses of his chosen pieces are astute, again there's a kind of safety to much of it that renders these essays informative and interesting, but not exactly inspiring. If that makes me sound negative about this collection, I'm not. It is interesting, and it is useful for those who want to be more aware of some of the aspects of writing prose fiction that a general reader (or the tyro writer) may not necessarily consider. If nothing else, the pieces in this volume will prompt the reader to explore these ideas in other, perhaps more personally intriguing, texts – which is no bad thing – and to plough beyond the thorough yet modest confines of Lodge's remit in their own ways – which is even better.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Graham Salisbury

    This book originated in the early 1990's when David Lodge was invited by the Independent on Sunday to contribute a series of weekly articles in which he chose a literary topic (such as Beginnings, Mystery, A Sense of Place, Allegory or Endings) and illustrated this with one or two short extracts from relatively well-known novels. The constraint of a short weekly newspaper column has demanded that Lodge restricts his comments and analysis to the most significant elements of the passages that he This book originated in the early 1990's when David Lodge was invited by the Independent on Sunday to contribute a series of weekly articles in which he chose a literary topic (such as Beginnings, Mystery, A Sense of Place, Allegory or Endings) and illustrated this with one or two short extracts from relatively well-known novels. The constraint of a short weekly newspaper column has demanded that Lodge restricts his comments and analysis to the most significant elements of the passages that he has chosen. As Lodge is not only a highly successful novelist in his own right, but also was a lecturer and professor in English Literature at Birmingham University for almost 30 years, you will be hard pressed to find a more knowledgeable, entertaining or lucid guide to accompany you through some of the landmark works of English fiction, regardless of whether you are an aspiring writer or simply wish to understand how literature works.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    This is the book that taught me how to read books. It provides a comprehensive set of critical tools for the everyday reader, and since its examples all tend to make you want to read the books they come from, it also gives you an outstanding syllabus of novels to try them out on. It was a brand-new book when I bought it; now it's dated but still rock-solid. It makes me giddy to think that I could have chosen not to buy it; I think the 25 years since would have gone a lot differently.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Schechtel

    If you are looking for a book who teaches you the language of literature, the craftwork, so as to improve both your reading and your writing, THIS is the book you want. Based upon classic novels in the English Language, David Lodge shows you the different tools a writer serves upon to create fiction. I just LOVED it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    S.j. Hirons

    Got me through college, man. Eventually I got my dog-eared copy signed by the man himself when he gave a talk at Warwick Uni.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    I've only ever read one of David Lodge's novels - The British Museum Is Falling Down - but I'll be seeking out more, because I really enjoyed this collection of columns on the art and history of the novel. If I can retain all I learned, it will improve both my experience as a reader and my ability as a writer.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    The cover of this collection of essays features a striking image by Van Gogh of a woman reading a novel. Her surroundings are strongly lit by a bright light, while she herself, her face especially, is in shadow (you can still see the anxiety in her face); the only blemish for me is the clumsily rendered fingers of her left hand. In a way this perfectly captures the impact of this non-fiction study: a lot of light is thrown on how British and American writers achieve the effects that are found in The cover of this collection of essays features a striking image by Van Gogh of a woman reading a novel. Her surroundings are strongly lit by a bright light, while she herself, her face especially, is in shadow (you can still see the anxiety in her face); the only blemish for me is the clumsily rendered fingers of her left hand. In a way this perfectly captures the impact of this non-fiction study: a lot of light is thrown on how British and American writers achieve the effects that are found in their works, but we are mainly in the dark as to how ordinary readers themselves may react. (The critics however lapped it up, if the cover quotes are typical.) All that we can be sure of is what the essayist thinks of the extracts he discusses: it is up to each reader to make up their minds whether that works for them individually. Some of these pieces were written for the Independent on Sunday as early as 1991, and my worry was that after much ink has flowed from pens and printers over the intervening quarter-century some of his observations might be a little dated. Not a bit of it. Fifty pieces cover the lifetime of the English novel, from Laurence Sterne to Fay Weldon, Jane Austen to Anthony Burgess, Thomas Carlyle to Milan Kundera; fifty article-length discussions revolve around topics as various as Suspense and Interior Monologue, Teenage Skaz and Magic Realism, the Unreliable Narrator and the Non-Fiction Novel, the Epistolary Novel and the Telephone. Lodge’s approach is to quote a passage or two from one or more books, each of which is designed to illustrate the technique he’s introducing, before going on to analyse and comment on how each extract works. Along the way he slips in specific literary terms like synecdoche or metafiction, defamiliarization or aporia, all without losing the novice reader because he shows those terms working in context. Whether it’s how to structure a novel (Chapters or Narrative Structure), or genre (Suspense, Imagining the Future, Allegory, Surrealism), or style (Showing and Telling, Point of View, Irony), Lodge is always knowledgeable, discursive and entertaining. I enjoyed this book about novels immensely, often reading two or three sections at a time without a sense of overload. Fittingly the first topic is Beginning and the last — for which I felt a pang of regret that all was nearly over — is Ending; Austen is the principal author bookending the collection. Penguin continued to publish this as recently as 2011 so clearly felt that The Art of Fiction was still relevant twenty years later. You won’t feel embarrassed caught reading this, not perhaps like Van Gogh’s young female reader. As Vincent himself writes in a little note accompanying a sketch of his 1888 painting, “in her hand she holds a yellow book”. In the late 19th century illicit French novels sported yellow covers, a fact that led to a famous British magazine saucily calling itself The Yellow Book from 1894 to 1897, even though its contents dealt with high art and literature. Still, it did achieve a posthumous kind of notoriety from the fact that both Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley contributed to it. http://wp.me/s2oNj1-fiction

  18. 5 out of 5

    Robert Day

    I simply love the way that David Lodge writes fiction so it is very fitting that he should be the one to write a book about the art of writing fiction. He's very good at writing non-fiction too. Everything he explains in this book is done so using language that is clean, clear and easy to understand, and although this book didn't inspire me to write anything (aside from this review) it did give me some good ideas of what to write about. When I actually get around to doing it that is. I'm not sure I simply love the way that David Lodge writes fiction so it is very fitting that he should be the one to write a book about the art of writing fiction. He's very good at writing non-fiction too. Everything he explains in this book is done so using language that is clean, clear and easy to understand, and although this book didn't inspire me to write anything (aside from this review) it did give me some good ideas of what to write about. When I actually get around to doing it that is. I'm not sure what else to say about the book. Usually I would have digressed by now and started to talk about things like ... well, like anything apart from what I'm supposed to be reviewing; but there's something about this author that commands my respect and impels me to stick to the point. Hmm - that's it then - if I'm sticking to the point and I've said everything I want to say about the point, it seems that we have reached ... The End. And then there's another end in that I read it again as part of the Creative Writing MA I'm doing. Better the second time. The End.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    David Lodge is a very clearly erudite author. These essays are interesting for his insights and thought-provoking in terms of understanding how fiction is built by smart writers. Still, Lodge's occasional forays into conversation about his own work have a smack of arrogance that left me disappointed. Also, he refers at one point to Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Days of Solitude. Did no editor, in all of the reprintings of this book, notice and correct Days to Years? Or have most people not David Lodge is a very clearly erudite author. These essays are interesting for his insights and thought-provoking in terms of understanding how fiction is built by smart writers. Still, Lodge's occasional forays into conversation about his own work have a smack of arrogance that left me disappointed. Also, he refers at one point to Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Days of Solitude. Did no editor, in all of the reprintings of this book, notice and correct Days to Years? Or have most people not actually read the book with any degree of attention?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Pol

    Beyond explaining the workings of fiction to general readers, Lodge does well in laying the foundations for a student of literature's understanding of tropes like point of view. I would love to see this expanded into a weightier book – as it is, the book is a bit shallow in terms of the depth covered (though it is no fault of Prof Lodge), and perhaps the tropes of fiction summed up for general readers should've been another work.

  21. 4 out of 5

    David

    A useful resource, if a but intellectual for the kind of trash I write :)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo Silva

    This was a re-reading and I must confess that I also haven't really finished it yet, although I read almost all of it. This is not a book you should read from beginning to end. "The Art of Ficton" is a really useful book for anyone who already has learned how to do creative writing but still needs to polish the technical part of writing. When I first read it, more or less a year ago, it was a pirate .pdf copy of the book. Back then I decided to read it out of curiosity, right after reading This was a re-reading and I must confess that I also haven't really finished it yet, although I read almost all of it. This is not a book you should read from beginning to end. "The Art of Ficton" is a really useful book for anyone who already has learned how to do creative writing but still needs to polish the technical part of writing. When I first read it, more or less a year ago, it was a pirate .pdf copy of the book. Back then I decided to read it out of curiosity, right after reading "Chaging Places". I read the chapters which were more interesting at the time and after that I deleted the illegal copy. A couple of weeks ago I decided to order the actual book through Amazon because tomorrow I'm starting a Creative Writing course. This last week I read some of the basic chapters of the book, namely "Beginning", "Suspense", "Names", "Intertextuality" and "Title", among others. To be honest I don't even know how to do creative writing, but I thought it would be better to get familiarized with some of the basic literary techniques before doing the course. I find this book a very useful tool, because it teaches the reader in a rather simple and easy way, how to write properly. Besides explaining the meaning and purpose of literary terms, genres and concepts (like Point of View, Magic Realism, Teenage Skaz, etc.), David Lodge illustrates his explanations with texts from various acclaimed international authors, ranging from Jane Austen to Nabokov, as well as James Joyce, George Orwell and Kurt Vonnegut, just to mention a few. Throughout the book, David Lodge shows his remarkable insight and knowledge regarding literature in general and on how to write, as well as his ability to deconstruct and explain complex concepts with a few simple words. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who already has enough imagination and knows how to write, but still fails at expressing himself and lacks the literary knowledge to evolve in the process of writing fiction.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Professor and novelist David Lodge, in plain, clear prose unadorned by the baubles and thorns of academese, explains a variety of basic literary terms and ideas using examples from (mostly) the classic novels. Sample: "Metafiction is fiction about fiction: novels and stories that call attention to their fictional status and their own compositional procedures." Each short chapter (they were originally newspaper columns) begins with a longish excerpt from literature. The book is occasionally marred Professor and novelist David Lodge, in plain, clear prose unadorned by the baubles and thorns of academese, explains a variety of basic literary terms and ideas using examples from (mostly) the classic novels. Sample: "Metafiction is fiction about fiction: novels and stories that call attention to their fictional status and their own compositional procedures." Each short chapter (they were originally newspaper columns) begins with a longish excerpt from literature. The book is occasionally marred by Lodge's tacky habit of quoting from his own novels; his own entry in the bibliography is, in fact, the longest. As he is the poor man's Kingsley Amis, this hardly benefits the book or the reader. If you haven't read William Golding, Henry James, George Eliot, Jane Austen, or John Fowles, be prepared for spoilers. His admirable clarity and succinctness, however, make this a worthwhile read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Randy

    The essays are short, concise, occasionally illuminating. Great for an undergrad. But perhaps a bit undercooked for the graduate or advanced reader--it is likely that this sort of person has already encountered or understands the concepts David Lodge touches on in his essays. You also will not find many contemporary samples--lots of Austen, Henry James, Fielding, and George Eliot. All excellent writers, of course. But the reliance on them gives the essays a whiff of that musty dusty smell we've The essays are short, concise, occasionally illuminating. Great for an undergrad. But perhaps a bit undercooked for the graduate or advanced reader--it is likely that this sort of person has already encountered or understands the concepts David Lodge touches on in his essays. You also will not find many contemporary samples--lots of Austen, Henry James, Fielding, and George Eliot. All excellent writers, of course. But the reliance on them gives the essays a whiff of that musty dusty smell we've all come to dread. Didacticism tickles the nose. To his credit, Lodge writes lovingly and carefully about his subjects--to the point where I've begun to consider re-reading 'The Golden Bowl'. But, for the most part, this is ground I've already tread.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    A series of themes that feature in fiction. Starting with "Beginnings" and ending with "Endings." Cites a lot of classic works, but also some modern ones, and his own works, especially when he wants to talk about the writing process, which naturally, he knows better in his own works. Such as how he was stymied on a character's name until he found that Robin was sometimes a woman's name, short for Roberta. Ranges all over from Weather to Intertextuality. Tends toward the literary. Some are more A series of themes that feature in fiction. Starting with "Beginnings" and ending with "Endings." Cites a lot of classic works, but also some modern ones, and his own works, especially when he wants to talk about the writing process, which naturally, he knows better in his own works. Such as how he was stymied on a character's name until he found that Robin was sometimes a woman's name, short for Roberta. Ranges all over from Weather to Intertextuality. Tends toward the literary. Some are more interesting than others.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Malek Al Lahham

    some techniques and articles , of how to write and understand the Novel. Though i studied it in my major as English Literature, but i come back to it to re-read it again, because it builds a solid basic information of understanding the techniques of novel writing. thanks to my professor to whom i owe a great thanks for making me a great lover to this book and other similar books, Mr. Riyadh Mathkaloun

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jake Goretzki

    Aye aye. All pretty breezy. Good source of inspiration for future novel reading. Good to see Henry Green mentioned. Meanwhile, it's a mark of my dopiness that I have no memory of noticing that the butler in 'Remains of the Day' was a selfish, confabulating git (I just remember him as a bit wet behind the ears and lost in the past). Learn summat every day.

  28. 4 out of 5

    L.E. Fidler

    reevaluating my AP summer reading... i like that this text offers excerpts that illustrate its main points in addition to tautly written chapters defining each subject. i just don't know if i like it more than my current Foster text. sigh.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Antonio

    I found this an interesting and illustrative text, full of good reading recommendations. Lodge's style is clear and his erudition on the English novel is remarkable.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jey

    A great book for writers and literature students.

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