|aPreface: Novel possibilities, or all animals aren't pigs? -- Introduction: Once upon a time : a short, chaotic, and entirely idiosyncratic history of the novel -- Pickup lines and open(ing) seductions or, why novels have first pages -- You can't breathe where the air is clear -- Who's in charge here? -- Never trust a narrator with a speaking part -- A still, small voice (or a great, galumphing one) -- Men (and women) made out of words, or, My pip ain't like your pip -- When very bad people happen to good novels -- Wrinkles in time, or Chapters just might matter -- Everywhere is just one place -- Clarissa's flowers -- Met-him-pike-hoses -- Life sentences -- Drowning in the stream of consciousness -- The light on Daisy's dock -- Fiction about fiction -- Source codes and recycle bins -- Interlude: Read with your ears -- Improbabilities : foundlings and magi, colonels and boy wizards -- What's the big idea--or even the small one? -- Who broke my novel? -- Untidy endings -- History in the novel/the novel in history -- Conspiracy theory -- Conclusion: The never-ending journey.
Of all the literary forms, the novel is arguably the most discussed . . . and fretted over. From Miguel de Cervantes's Don Quixote to the works of Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and today's masters, the novel has grown with and adapted to changing societies and technologies, mixing tradition and innovation in every age throughout history.
Thomas C. Foster—the sage and scholar who ingeniously led readers through the fascinating symbolic codes of great literature in his first book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor—now examines the grammar of the popular novel. Exploring how authors' choices about structure—point of view, narrative voice, first page, chapter construction, character emblems, and narrative (dis)continuity—create meaning and a special literary language, How to Read Novels Like a Professor shares the keys to this language with readers who want to get more insight, more understanding, and more pleasure from their reading.
Thomas C. Foster is a professor of English at the University of Michigan-Flint, where he teaches contemporary fiction, drama, and poetry as well as creative writing and composition. He is the author of Twenty-five Books That Shaped America and several books on twentieth-century British and Irish fiction and poetry. He lives in East Lansing, Michigan.