10221 Basic Conventions of the 19th Century Novel

Credits: 6 intermediate credits in Comparative Literature

Prerequisites: none

Recommended: Hero and Anti-Hero in the Modern Novel 1

Authors: Nilli Diengott, Rachel Weissbrod, Nurit Hermon, Zvia Tsafrir, Yael Harussi, Joshua Adler

This course examines basic literary conventions that appear in the 19th century novel through an analysis of five outstanding examples of English, French and Russian literature, and attempts to show how these conventions serve the themes and ideas in the five novels. Students read the novels in Hebrew translation.2 Though the course interprets these novels, the focus is not on the interpretation, but rather on a theoretical discussion of the conventions. Students are introduced to changes in the conventions that occurred during the 19th century, until their undermining in the modern novel. The five conventions discussed are the use of a causal-chronological plot; the use of an omniscient narrator; certain modes of characterization; detailed description of the social background; and the tendency to terminate the novel with a “closed” ending.

Topics: Introduction – the attitudes of three modern novelists (Virginia Woolf, Natalie Sarraute and Alain Robbe-Grillet) who reject the literary conventions of the 19th century novel; Honore de Balzac, Pere Goriot; Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina; Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment; Henry James, Portrait of a Lady; Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary.

1Students are strongly urged to take this course since it provides background for analyzing literary works. Students who have not taken it may have difficulty understanding the material.