E430 – 18th-Century English Fiction
Prerequisite: one course in Literature.
Description: This course examines the first hundred years of the novel in England. Although there is some glancing back at the history of fiction, some attention to the developmental aspects of the English novel, and discussion of the causal relationships among novelists, the burden of the course lies on the analysis and understanding of selected major novels by major authors: Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Fielding’s Tom Jones, Richardson’s Clarissa, Smollett’s Roderick Random or Humphrey Clinker, Sterne’s Tristram Shandy, Burney’s Evelina, and Austen’s Emma. What is stressed, for example, is what Tom Jones is about, and how its themes, its intricate architectonic plot and its modes of narrative voice all contribute to the reader’s understanding of the novel’s meaning and significance. Comparisons and contrasts among the several novels in the course serve to establish what each uniquely is, considered as a formal entity, and to establish a certain coherence of attitude and value that is eighteenth-century England.