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EN 2120 (1)

'Epic and Novel'

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EN 2120
Katharine Wrobel

Epic and NovelEnglish 2120Professor Katherine WrobelThe study of the novel as a genre id distinguished by peculiar difficulties This is due to the unique nature of the object itself the novel is the sole genre that continues to develop that is as yet uncompleted The forces that define it as a genre are at work before our very eyes the birth and development of the novel as a genre takes place in the full light of the historical dayThe generic skeleton of the novel is still far from having hardened and we cannot foresee all its plastic possibilities We know other genres as more or less fixed preexisting forms into which one may then pour artistic experience The primordial process of their formation lies outside historically documented observationEncounter the epic as a genre that has not only long since completed its development but one that is already antiquated The life they have in history the life with which we are familiar is the life they have lives as already completed genres with a hardened and no longer flexible skeleton Of all the major genres only the novel is younger than writing and the book it alone is organically receptive to new forms of mute perception that is to reading But of critical importance here is the fact that the novel has no canon of its own as do other genres only individual examples of the novel are historically active not a generic canon as such Example studying other genres is analogous to studying dead languages studying the novel on the other hand is like studying languages that are not only alive but still young Among genres long since completed and in part already dead the novel is the only developing genre It is the only genre that was born and nourished in a new era of world history and therefore it is deeply akin to that era whereas the other major genres entered the era as already fixed forms as an inheritance and only now are they adapting themselvessome better some worseto the new conditions of their existence
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