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Against the Event: The Everyday and the Evolution of Modernist Narrative investigates how a modernity famed for temporal acceleration - from Benjamin's 'shock' and 'distraction' to the postmodern loss of historical consciousness diagnosed by Jameson - generated fictions defined, strangely enough, not just by the 'new' but just as forcefully by everyday depletions of stasis and repetition, a flood of sameness in modern life. With close attention to the novels of Flaubert, Wells, Conrad, and Joyce, Against the Event relates this aspect of modernity to modernist and proto-modernist problems of narrative form, in particular the banalizing effects of genre, the threatening necessity of closure, and the obsolescence of the coherent narrator. In doing so, Against the Event is also an intervention into one of the pressing philosophical and theoretical issues of our time, that of the nature of the 'event.'
Michael Sayeau is Lecturer of English at University College London.
Table of Contents
Chapter I. Introduction: In the Anteroom of the Event What is the Everyday? What is an Event Literature and the Event Anti-Evental Modernism The Emergence of Modernist Narrative Chapter II: 'The future was a dark corridor': Flaubert's Madame Bovary, The Everyday, and Style 'As though in a grip of a ghastly terror' A Book About Nothing, an Exercise in Style The Nouveau and the Genre Emma's Everyday Skipping: An Aesthetics of Uneventful Existence Homais's Cross of Honor: Flaubert and History Chapter III: The 'Odd Consequence' of Progress: H.G. Wells's The Time Machine and the Fin de Siecle Everyday The Catastrophic Status-Quo: Empire, Economics, and Sex at the End of the Nineteenth Century A Universal Tendency to Dissipation: Overproduction and Heat Death 'After the Battle Comes the Quiet': Wells's Ambivalent Modernity 'My Story Slips Away from Me': The Narrative Impulse vs. Social Stasis Everyday Apocalypse and the Morlocks ex Machina Chapter IV: 'His Occupation Would Be Gone': Unemployment and Time in Conrad's Heart of Darkness The Invention of Unemployment: Conrad's Careers Marlow's Discourse and the Temporality of Work The 'Helpers': The Belgian Congo, Forced Labor, and the Posthuman Conrad's Unemployment, the Narrative Event, and Modernism Chapter V: Joyce's Anti-Epiphanies: The Atomic Form of Fiction The Manuscript Epiphanies of 1900-1903 Dubliners: The Critique of Pure Epiphany Portrait and the Temporality of Impersonality Back to the Strand: 'Nausicaa' Modernism, the Everyday, and Auerbach's 'Very Simple Solution' Bibliography