Against the Event Everyday and Evolution of Modernist Narrative

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-10-22
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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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.'

Author Biography

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'

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