The Maximalist Novel sets out to define a new genre of contemporary fiction that developed in the United States from the early 1970s, and then gained popularity in Europe in the early twenty-first century.
The maximalist novel has a very strong symbolic and morphological identity. Ercolino sets out ten particular elements which define and structure it as a complex literary form: length, an encyclopedic mode, dissonant chorality, diegetic exuberance, completeness, narrratorial omniscience, paranoid imagination, inter-semiocity, ethical commitment, and hybrid realism. These ten characteristics are common to all of the seven works that centre his discussion: Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Underworld by Don DeLillo, White Teeth by Zadie Smith, The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen, 2666 by Roberto Bolaño, and 2005 dopo Cristo by the Babette Factory.
Though the ten features are not all present in the same way or form in every single text, they are all decisive in defining the genre of the maximalist novel, insofar as they are systematically co-present. Taken singularly, they can be easily found both in modernist and postmodern novels, which are not maximalist. Nevertheless, it is precisely their co-presence, as well as their reciprocal articulation, which make them fundamental in demarcating the maximalist novel as a genre.
Stefano Ercolino is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Underwood International College, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea. A former Fulbright Scholar at Stanford University, USA, and DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow in the Peter Szondi Institute of Comparative Literature at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, he is the author of The Novel-Essay, 1884-1947.
Table of Contents
List of Figures Acknowledgements
The Maximalist Novel
Introduction. Maximalist Paradigms 1. “Art of Excess”: The Systems Novel 2. “A Paradoxical Form”: The Mega-Novel 3. “In the Eyes of the World”: The Modern Epic
Part One Chapter I. Length
Chapter II. Encyclopedic Mode 1. An “Encyclopedic Novel”? 2. An Encyclopedic “Genre”? 3. The Encyclopedic Mode Chapter III. Dissonant Chorality 1. Chorality 2. Polyphony Minimalism/Maximalism
Chapter IV. Diegetic Exuberance
Chapter V. Completeness 1. Structural Practices of the Maximalist Novel 1.1 Circular Geometries 1.2 Temporal Architectures 1.3 Conceptual Structures 1.3.1 Leitmotiv 1.3.2 Myth 1.3.3 Intertextual Forms Chapter VI. Narratorial Omniscience
Chapter VII. Paranoid Imagination Internal Dialectic. Chaos-Function/Cosmos-Function
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