AD's English Literature : October 2010

What is Twentieth Century Novel Or The Novel as the Modern Epic Or The stream of Consciousness Novel Or The modern Psychological Novel?

Introduction: Modern novels have taken place of the ancient epics. The magnitude of epic is not its volume or narrative enlargement; rather it is expansion of thought and perception. An epic reflects the conscience of an age, its life style and thought equilibrium. Thus, from Homer to Milton the epics become the carriage of social, moral and communal representation. Later, the same search of age – consciousness is done, at least tried, through the dramas. The dramas have their limitation in its time frame and dramaturgic setting. Even Shakespeare fails to cross these limitations. After many currents and cross currents of prose-lyrics become multi-faceted, many – sided, complex and abundantly rich in it astonishing variety. The modern novelists are reading the conscience of his characters through the medium of his own, and by the process the dimensional mirror of novel is reflecting an age conscience which we have already read in epics. Modern novel is truly the ‘comic prose epic’.(Fielding)

Dialogism: Mikhael Bakhtin has pointed out a singular characteristic of the novel – the dialogic quality. The traditional epics compact diverse elements in life and looks upon humanity with a vaster sweep of vision. The novels, however, actively assimilate aspects of life – crisis, correlation and combination – out of which a   dimensional thought is expressed. In the 19th century, Dickens and Balzac have successfully depleted the multidimensional qualities in their pragmatic fictional works.

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