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From a close study of E.M.Forster's "A Passage to India" and Julian Barnes' "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" examine the features which make up "a novel".

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From a close study of E.M.Forster's "A Passage to India" and Julian Barnes' "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" examine the features which make up "a novel". NOVEL? How can you decipher the word novel? The easy answer to that is, you cannot. There is NO straight definition for the word novel, and everyone has his or her own opinion of what a novel is. The novel is a relentlessly evolving genre, however the 20th Century has been deemed by critics to have experienced a series of rapid revolutions in the form of the novel. With each 'revolution' there appears to be a new definition of the novel. This does however not imply there has been a discontinuity. Walter Allen offered a modernist approach to the novel in 1954; he suggested "Every novelist gives us in his novel his own personal, idiosyncratic vision of the world...All aspects of a book (milieu, plot, characters, dialogue, style) condition and qualify one another". Half a century later Malcolm Bradbury evaluated the novel in a post modernist context " a baggy monster a form of fictional prose narrative of a certain length that contains infinite variety, assimilates many different sub genres, draws on may origins, quite often to subvert them". Different as these definitions may be they all succeed in falling within the same over arching genre. 'A Passage to India' is a result of the modernist school and was seen by critics and experimental, radical and avant-garde, this in comparison to what had come before. ...read more.


Barnes in this passage provokes his audiences' response by subverting what they felt to be secure. This segment of the novel succeeds in tying up the threads of the specifically conflicting genre that function within the book, "We bury our victims in secrecy (strangled princelings, irradiated reindeer"..."we lost the Titanic, forever it seemed. In the squid ink depths, but they turned it up. They found the wreck of the Medusa not long ago of the coast of Mauritania". All of Barnes stories that are in use in the novel come together in this one passage to support this one concept - that is the concept of what we are, based on our past and in our present art, religion, politics and love. While politics, religion, and art are subjected to Barnes scathing analysis, he offers a small glimmer of hope with love, "we must be precise about love" (242). Love in this passage appears to be the one thing Barnes will not subvert, his deconstructing manner that destroyed the security that history, politics, religion and art (all themes in his novel) brought to the reader are subjected to a final subversion in less than a page. Love is not "love is anti-mechanical, anti-materialist", "Love and truth, that is the prime connection". For this passage, love offers the reader hope. In a passage on page 299, love is a false hope and is torn down not only to serve as a link between the themes but also the stories within the book themselves. ...read more.


Where Forster looks at present day cultural motives for the problems in recent history, such as public school culture not by questioning history itself as Barnes does. The novel will continually change and progress or regress over the coming decades and the features that are present in the modern and postmodernist novels will continually evolve. A fact that will not change is that novels represent their time. The issues concerning the generation of the author will be inherent in the style and topic of the novel. For Barnes it meant asking questions about the foundations of society and destroying them, highlighting the superficiality of the world in which we live but for Forster it meant a desire to answer questions posed by the first world war. The novel is therefore in its most enveloping definition; encompassing not just the twentieth century but the centuries before it, a work of literature, written in many or one style that seeks to reflect through a character or a series of characters the events and questions of a society and a writer in either a realistic narrative or an abstract construction. The most prevalent feature of a novel being not how it is written but the motivation behind why it is written. It is society itself that has experienced the overwhelming transformation that has occurred between 1921 and 1989 not the techniques used to write a novel which have continued to evolve at a steady progression from the work of the great Victorian novelists through the modern and realism eras to the apparently revolutionised work of authors such as Barnes and his post-modernist contemporaries. ...read more.

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