The Novel to Jane Austen

Jack Lynch

The novel, although the most familiar literary genre in the twenty-first century, is a comparative newcomer in literary history — much younger than epic, dramatic, or lyric poetry, for example. According to the standard accounts, the English novel "rose" from its primitive origins in the early eighteenth century. In this course we'll try to figure out what this "rise" is all about by reading some of the major works from the genre's early days and examining the often controversial history of the new literary form. We'll look at the romance, sentimentalism, the Gothic novel, and literary criticism from both the eighteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Primary readings will probably include Behn's Oroonoko, Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Richardson's Pamela, Fielding's Tom Jones, Sterne's Tristram Shandy, and Austen's Pride and Prejudice.