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The Literary Channel:
The Inter-National Invention of the Novel
Edited by Margaret Cohen & Carolyn Dever

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In the last decades of the seventeenth century there emerged a hybrid prose genre that rapidly attracted the enthusiasm of readers across Europe and then throughout the world. This genre was the modern novel oriented around the twin focuses of "[t]he Romance . . . an heroic fable, which treats of fabulous persons and things," and "[t]he Novel . . . a picture of real life and manners, and of the time in which it is written," as Clara Reeve put it in 1785.1 When the novel first took shape, critics assigned it a marginal if not suspect place in the generic hierarchy, treating it as " 'illegitimate' and outside the range of recognized" forms.2 By the time Reeve was writing, however, the novel's authority was established, and by the mid-nineteenth century it had become the dominant literary genre of modern culture.

But the novel's global appeal did not accompany its global production. Well into the 1820s and even the 1830s the great majority of novels, and certainly the majority of internationally acclaimed novels, were written in what Franco Moretti has called a novelistic "core" of France and Britain.3 This geographical concentration was at once quantitative and poetic, for it produced the literary codes that are familiar hallmarks of the genre: first-person narrations of complex interiority, the omniscient narrator, free indirect discourse, dramatic dialogue, causally motivated plots of suspense, and detailed, socially precise descriptions that helped to constitute fictional historical and geographical categories.

Materialist histories of the novel have long explained the novel's formal innovations as responses to the transformations accompanying the advent of capitalist modernity. In more recent years critics have highlighted above all the novel's implication in the project of empire and the consolidation of the nation-state. They have also raised the question what the novel owes to changing conditions of literary production in either Britain or France.4 There has, however, been little attention to the formative role played by a factor that intersects each of these inquiries yet retains its own discrete existence: the processes of literary and cultural exchange that occurred across the English Channel.

The modern novel did not develop along two separate, nationally distinct trajectories; it developed through intersections and interactions among texts, readers, writers, and publishing and critical institutions that linked together Britain and France. These intersections constitute a distinctive arena of cultural power that we call a zone because the notion of zone, particularly in its military and mathematical usage, suggests a structure produced through the intersection of other structures that are coherent formations in their own right.5 A zone is a liminal formation at the confluence of independent formations; it both belongs to these formations and constitutes a distinct whole of its own. As the military notion of the zone makes especially clear, such liminal spaces are characterized by discrete practices that are implicated in but not necessarily identical with the practices of the formations coming into contact; those who visited the border dividing East from West Germany during the cold war may remember guards on opposing sides who knew each other by name and exchanged jokes across yards of barbed wire, broken glass, and land mines.

When the notion of the zone has been invoked in avant-garde writings on cultural modernity, it has identified sites of power and struggle with an ambivalent relation to hegemony. As Freud suggests in an analysis of the dream-work zone between consciousness and the unconscious, liminal spaces foster experimentation and harbor potential anarchy;6 they have a particular affinity with emerging, ephemeral, and hybrid practices, though these practices themselves can become hegemonic, as the history of the novel's cross-Channel development will make clear. For the zone's liminality in no way means that it eschews the production of power. The cross-Channel literary zone is, specifically, a version of what Bourdieu has called the cultural field, though it exists at the international level, and is hence defined both by and in tension with the nationally based literary institutions of interest to Bourdieu. Like any cultural field, the Channel zone is characterized by the agglomeration of a range of formal and informal institutions that produce and distribute symbolic and economic capital. This volume argues that to understand the material factors producing the modern novel, we must recover the terms of its passage through the Channel zone, the specific history of its cross-Channel construction and consumption.

Patterns of literary transmission and exchange between Britain and France shifted dramatically over the decades and centuries of the modern novel's development, and the chapters in this volume intervene at especially sensitive moments in this process. The historical as well as methodological range of the chapters should suggest the depth and breadth of the modern novel's cross-Channel genealogy. This is a story of cultural exchange and of cultures constituted through exchange, of novels imported and exported, published, reviewed, sold, circulated, and read together, of works translated from one national language to the other and then retranslated as their national origins are mislaid. Such processes both vindicate and challenge the imagined contours of the nation-state. If England and France have at times defined themselves by means of contrast with the other, through a complex process of displacement in which the representation of national difference played an important, even constitutive role, this "othering" helped shape the Channel zone itself. Yet exchanges within that space were not identical with the practices of power that defined English and French state hegemony. They were shaped by the political, economic, and social processes that bound the two nations in an inextricable competition for global economic and political supremacy throughout the history of the novel's development. But they also defined themselves against these processes, just as they partook of the concept of a national literature yet did not assume novels as coextensive with nations. Cross-Channel cultural exchanges were not, moreover, limited to the modern novel, though this genre played a key role in defining and perpetuating the literary and cultural authority of the dynamic zone at the intersection of two national traditions.

The Inter-National Invention of the Novel

We elaborate our notion of the Channel zone with the help of both comparatist and nationally based critical paradigms that set the terms for describing the novel's relation to geography across the twentieth century. In the comparatist paradigm, the novel is a constitutively international genre. This paradigm reaches at least back to Georg Lukács, who linked the novel to a generalized historical and philosophical modernity that was not, however, rooted in a specific social function. For Lukács in The Theory of the Novel (1920), the novel's codes were determined by its attempt to express what he famously described as the transcendental homelessness of subjectivity in a disenchanted world. Following his Marxist turn, Lukács did not fundamentally shift from an international view of the novel's aims. He did, however, transform the novel's engagement with existential exile into an engagement with the contradictions defining the development of capitalist modernity, as The Historical Novel and Studies in European Realism illustrate.

In the shift from Hegel to Marx, Lukács encountered a question that was to trouble materialist efforts to conceptualize the novel in global terms throughout the twentieth century: how was one to reconcile the novel's international presence with the fact that capitalist modernity developed unevenly, that it was rarely in sync in differing nations; and that the novel developed unevenly in different national contexts as well? The beginning of The Historical Novel suggests the importance to this question of the Channel zone, for despite his general lack of interest in the tradition of the British novel, Lukács speculates on the novel's eighteenth-century variation across Britain and France in particular, with some discussion, too, of late-eighteenth-century Germany. Rather than exploring this immensely rich subject, however, Lukács isolated a moment in the history of the novel when both poetic and social unevenness were minimal across nations, and he identified this moment as the teleology of the genre as a whole. For him, that historical moment encompassed the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, "which for the first time made history a mass experience and moreover on a European scale."7 The novelistic sub-genre accordingly privileged in this paradigm was historical realism in the vein of Walter Scott. In this argument, however, Lukács rigged the game, admitting only a very narrow field of objects--the novels of historical realism--and a narrow literary focus, as he bracketed, for example, the entire eighteenth century. When Auerbach produced a remarkably similar account of the culmination of the novel in "modern tragic realism," he followed suit, treating the eighteenth-century novel as problematic and aligning the triumph of historical realism to "the first great movements of modern times in which large masses of men consciously took part--the French Revolution with all the consequent convulsions which spread from it over Europe."8

The power of an alignment between historical realism and the European wars produced by the French Revolution can be seen in its authority across the twentieth century. It shaped, for example, such important works as Jackson's Political Unconscious (1981) and Moretti's Way of the World (1987), which focus on a set of literary objects and historical events similar to those of interest to Lukács. But while such analyses do not fundamentally shift the phenomena to be explained, they do differ from the Lukácsian narrative in confronting head on the novel's formal divergence across national boundaries. They stress the concept of its uneven development, proposing that variations in the practice of capitalist modernity from nation to nation explain differences in national practices of the novel as a form. With this response, they offer a powerful tool for disarticulating the rise of the novel from realism and from the early nineteenth century and for reconstituting the existence of a unified zone of cultural power across national variations in history and poetics.

We also owe our conceptualization of the novel as a form constitutively engaged with boundary crossing to the comparative lineage instigated by Mikhail Bakhtin, whose first major work on the novel, Problems in Dostoevsky's Poetics, appeared in 1929. For Bakhtin, as for Lukács, the novel was an international genre, but Bakhtin was attentive to the insurgency, beyond classes, of language itself. In this, Bakhtin offers a template of novelistic heterogeneity that is crucial to our argument for the importance of attending to a trans-Channel literary field. For Bakhtin, the novel's rebellious energy led to its constitutive engagement with categorical logic. As Michael Holquist explains in the translator's introduction to The Dialogic Imagination, " '[N]ovel' is the name Bakhtin gives to whatever force is at work within a given literary system to reveal the limits, the artificial constraints of that system. Literary systems are comprised of canons, and 'novelization' is fundamentally anticanonical. It will not permit generic monologue. Always it will insist on the dialogue between what a given system will admit as literature and those texts that are otherwise excluded from such a definition of literature. What is more conventionally thought of as the novel is simply the most complex and distilled expression of this impulse."9 In this narrative, the novel's class insurgency and its poetics are extensions of its resistance to hegemony and hierarchy. The novel is a form whose very stability paradoxically depends on a project of instability, which Bakhtin variously characterizes as both epistemological and ontological. What is suggestive about this argument in the context of a theory of a cross-Channel zone of novelistic production is the sense in which the novel establishes itself counter to systematic, organizing, canonizing logic. In his insistence on a dialogic novelistic imagination Bakhtin shifts the frame of reference through which cultural materialists have located the novel as an emblem of radical modernity in a fashion conducive to interrogating other foundational categories, including those of nation and national literary tradition.

Equally suggestive for our purposes is the fact that such instability is inseparable from linguistic instability represented in and by novelistic language, which is subversive because it is polyglot, ironic, and self-referential. "To a greater or lesser extent," Bakhtin writes, "every novel is a dialogized system made up of the images of 'languages,' styles and consciousnesses that are concrete and inseparable from language. Language in the novel not only represents but itself serves as an object of representation. Novelistic discourse is always criticizing itself" (49). This self-critical, even parodic tendency lends the novel a strategic "polyglossia," or subversive heterodoxy, and, Bakhtin continues, "[o]nly polyglossia fully frees consciousness from the tyranny of its own language and its own myth of language. Parodic-travestying forms flourish under these conditions, and only in this milieu are they capable of being elevated to completely new ideological heights" (61). As Bakhtin's application of a rhetoric of oppression and liberation to language suggests, the novel's polyglossia is political as well as epistemological; it is inseparable from the genre's democratizing ambition and effects.

Born of and as a hybrid form, cobbled together from the scraps and fragments of various storytelling modes, the novel, in Bakhtin's vision, is the repository for "an interanimation of languages." Through this attention to languages as fundamentally permeable, Bakhtin challenges the conceptual bases that would enclose novels within national traditions and also points to one starting point for a history such as ours: the importance of translation and the fact that national languages are "interanimated," originating piecemeal in terms and forms imported and exported across boundaries of national and cultural difference.10 Once the clear boundaries of national language are challenged, other accompanying distinctions are problematized as well: "nation," for example, and literary canon. From a Bakhtinian perspective, it is simultaneously perverse and yet understandable that the novel would signify the coherence of national identity; it is a genre that dwells at borders whose policing is crucial to the nationalist project.

The space of the border is also at stake in our debt to the vital twentieth-century lineage that situates the novel within the framework of the nation. This lineage focuses on conceptual borders, certainly: it has been concerned with the destabilization of historical, ideological, and aesthetic categories as a key project of the genre.11 But also important here is the geopolitical border, and particularly the border dividing England from France: the cross-Country comparative context has haunted nationally based histories of the novel as powerfully as it defined the developmental trajectory of the novel itself. In nationally based studies of the novel the novel's transnational contours have generally receded in favor of attention to distinct national traditions, aligned with the material histories, most notably for our purposes, of either Britain or France. But we would like to call attention to how the question of the Channel zone complicates these studies even though it is never raised directly, tending to emerge at the margins of discussion, in introductions that establish the paradigm to be studied, in footnotes or impressionistic comments designating material for future thought. When the novel's transnational constitution is directly confronted, it most often serves the function of contrast to explain what makes a British novel British, or a French novel French.

To give an example from the foundations of this tradition, Ian Watt grounds his influential analysis of the "rise" of formal realism in eighteenth-century Britain by situating his work within a context both transnational and transhistorical. "[I]f we assume, as is commonly done, that [the novel is a new literary form], and that it was begun by Defoe, Richardson and Fielding, how," asks Watt, "does it differ from the prose fiction of the past, from that of Greece, for example, or that of the Middle Ages, or of seventeenth-century France?"12 The novel emerged, for Watt, from a globally diverse prose-fiction tradition, but the formal realism that constitutes its truly "novel" contribution was first noted as such by the French. Watt continues to evince his awareness of the cross-Channel genesis of the novel when he suggests that a specifically formal quality of English narrative realism was in fact a trans-Channel phenomenon: "[T]he novel's realism does not reside in the kind of life it presents, but in the way it presents it . . . This, of course, is very close to the position of the French realists themselves, who asserted that if their novels tended to differ from the more flattering pictures of humanity presented by many established ethical, social, and literary codes, it was merely because they were the product of a more dispassionate and scientific scrutiny of life than had ever been attempted before" (11). The comparative context enables Watt to suggest the many yields of réalisme on both sides of the Channel: the novel is a description of the human condition in high states and in low, a description presented through formal conventions of time and place shaped by empiricism and by a new narrative emphasis on "dispassionate and scientific scrutiny."

But because the histories of class relations in Britain and France developed quite differently during the long eighteenth century, when defining novelistic codes were forged, Watt reiterates a distinct line between British and French traditions throughout his work. Watt makes the startling assertion that "[i]n France, the classical critical outlook, with its emphasis on elegance and concision, was not fully challenged until the coming of Romanticism French fiction from La Princesse de Clèves to Les Liaisons dangeureuses stands outside the main tradition of the novel. For all its psychological penetration and literary skill, we feel it is too stylish to be authentic" (30). French fiction's "inauthenticity" is a matter of a "stylishness"--classical, elegant, concise form applied to aristocratic plots--which seems anachronistic when compared with the (relatively) lower-class narratives of Fielding, Defoe, and Sterne. For Watt, like other literary historians working in the context of cultural materialism, such a contrast is not value-neutral: a repressive French high-cultural literary tradition is opposed to a more popular and, by implication, more democratic tradition in Britain. It was British fiction of the eighteenth century that reaped the benefits of a popular revolution in aesthetic taste, enabling formal realism to establish a footing that it failed to achieve in France until the nineteenth century, when France saw "the first great efflorescence of the genre . . . with Balzac and Stendhal" (300). The "main tradition of the novel" was thereby appropriated in the name of an appealing insurgency and celebrated the "rise" of the middle classes.

Watt's segregation of French texts from the main line of novelistic tradition was noted by Georges May, a historian of the French novel who remains similarly haunted by the novel's transnational genesis, at once acutely aware of it yet lacking the framework to theorize it as such. May's thesis in Le Dilemme du roman au siècle XVIIIe is that eighteenth-century French novelists were stymied by the contradictory demands of powerful literary critics that the novel at once idealize human nature, and thereby improve its readers, yet also represent people as they really are. May continuously looks across the Channel to find works that can treat realistic subjects without descending into libertinage: his works are rife with statements like that praising the "superiority . . . of Defoe or of Fielding over Prévost or Madame Riccoboni" for their ability to include a veritable human comedy in their depictions.13 For May, English success turns on the ability to absorb the French attention to the depiction of interiority, forged in what he calls the golden age of the French novel in the 1720s and 1730s, and to fuse it with a social realism of detail.

Why can English writers do this? May's answer to this question is the same as Watt's: the close links between the eighteenth-century English novel and the newly empowered middle classes. May turns out to share the assumption that links the emergence of the modern novel with the "rise" of the middle classes; his problem is that this rise cannot be celebrated similarly in eighteenth-century ancien régime culture, when the bourgeoisie started to amass economic power but could find no way to bring it to political expression and where the beginnings of industrialization lagged far behind those of England (French industrialization gained momentum later, in the 1820s).14 It is thus no accident that French literary history long treated the eighteenth-century French novel as somehow problematic.15 And this is why materialist analyses of the French novel generally begin with the nineteenth century and the emergence of Balzacian realism against the backdrop of the post-Revolutionary triumph of the bourgeoisie.16 Friedrich Engels diagnosed the uneven development of modernity motivating this divergence in nationally based historiographies of the novel when he wrote that "[t]he Industrial Revolution has been as important for England as the political revolution for France."17

The pressure to align the novel and capitalist modernity is tremendously powerful. But even when given the optimum field by the focus on a single national tradition, it is disturbed and complicated by the influential context of cross-Channel exchange. In order to understand all that such a homology suppresses, it is crucial to have a sense of what might have been, to understand that in fact a range of novelistic forms were crudely condensed into a single teleological model figured as the rise toward realism. This is an insight of feminist critics working on both English and French contexts, several of whom are contributors to this volume. In the process of searching for organizing cultural paradigms beyond the novel-nation homology, feminist literary historians observed the implication of patriarchy and fatherland and found in narratives and subgenres pioneered and consumed by women readers (notably the Gothic, historical romance, and sentimental fiction) imagined communities and literary codes that worked across the enclosing boundaries of the nation.18 Feminist scholarship has joined such archival excavation with the epistemological interrogation that preoccupies both Bakhtin and McKeon. As a result, the feminist critique of power constituted in superpatriarchal categories such as "nation" has reaped the benefit of a materialist concern with the productive power of the market and also a poststructuralist suspicion of categories constituted in binary opposition to each other.

When The Literary Channel decenters the category of nationality from its unquestioned authority in dominant accounts of the rise of the novel, it pursues an imperative resulting from such scholarship: to rewrite the category of nationality so foundational in traditional literary histories, it is imperative to reorient the major landmarks and figures that have conventionally defined the canon of the novel along with the contexts that give them shape, with these contexts understood as broadly discursive literary and cultural fields. Feminist literary historians' challenge that the nation and the canon must be interrogated simultaneously has become, if anything, more urgent as it has evolved in tandem with postcolonial studies that have extensively historicized as well as theorized the constructedness of the "imagined geography of the nation," to use Benedict Anderson's celebrated phrase. In postcolonial analysis, the nation is clearly disarticulated from the state; it has become "one of the major structures of ideological ambivalence within the cultural representations of 'modernity.' " 19

Such an ideological approach to the category of nation has, in turn, enabled nationally based studies of the novel to broach the nation as a problem to be investigated rather than as a self-evident framework organizing the analysis. William Warner's question at the opening to Licensing Entertainment emblematizes such a shift: "How," he asks, "do eighteenth-century novels that happen to have been written in England come to be understood, by the late nineteenth century, as the first instances of that complex and valued cultural object known as 'the English novel'?"20 At the same time, postcolonial studies also paved the way for comparatists to rethink the novel's internationalism in offering a global account of modern capitalism, which developed its international practice well beyond early-nineteenth-century political upheaval and the emergence of the working classes onto the stage of history. Moretti's Atlas of the European Novel takes up this challenge, invoking Wallerstein's notion of the modern world system to ask not only how novels were shaped by the global rise of capitalism but how novels themselves form a cultural system across national borders.

Transnational Culture before--and with--the Nation

In the introduction to Nation and Narration Bhabha cogently formulates one of the most powerful lines of inquiry opened by the postcolonial interest in questions of space and in the category "nation." Bhabha writes, "It is this international dimension both within the margins of the nation-space and in the boundaries in-between nations and peoples that the authors of this book have sought to represent in their essays. The representative emblem of this book might be a chiasmatic 'figure' of cultural differencewhereby the anti-nationalist, ambivalent nation-space becomes the crossroads to a new transnational culture."21 But when Bhabha speaks of "a new transnational culture," he suggests how much remains to be discovered about the notion of the transnational when applied to cultural formations and, notably, how much remains to be written about its history. For transnational culture did not begin in the postmodern era, though there is a marked presentist trend in the way this concept has been energized in recent literary studies.

In its application to the postmodern condition the notion of the transnational foregrounds the simultaneously increasing totalization and fragmentation that characterize the processes of late capitalism, a phenomenon Lukács diagnosed in 1922.22 Thus, in interdisciplinary studies the transnational interpretive frame is applied to multinational corporations with the ability to circumvent the state and thwart labor organizing on the local level. It also is used to describe political and economic nongovernmental organizations, whose relation to multinational corporations ranges from the critical to the complicit. At the same time, the notion of the transnational has been applied to the fragmented, immigrant labor forces whose transnational identity, or what Yasemin Soysal calls "postnational" identity, is encouraged by a multinational development of capital.23 That immigrant workers are the marginal and displaced of late capitalism meshes with the specific political valence of the notion of the transnational when it is applied to contemporary cultural formations. Such formations are generally associated with minority, multicultural, and nomadic forms of cultural production, cultural forms that celebrate what Katharyne Mitchell, observing how the notion of the transnational designates at once the hegemonic economic formations of global capitalism and the cultures of marginality, ephemerality, and flux that resist them, has called "hybridity and pluralism."24

But while postmodern notions of the transnational will resonate with certain aspects of the cross-cultural exchanges depicted in these chapters, the volume also accounts for a history that differs from the present in several important ways. We are concerned, notably, with a transnational culture that was in no way postnational but rather predated the modern nation-state and took shape in tandem with its emergence. Analyzing the case of England, Linda Colley argues that modern British identity was forged in the process of a bitter and protracted struggle between Britain and France for hegemony fought out both in Europe and in the colonies. In her introduction, Colley offers a few dates to indicate the intensity of this struggle as well as its time frame. Britain and France,

between 1689 and 1697 . . . between 1702 and 1713, 1743 and 1748, 1756 and 1763, 1778 and 1783, 1793 and 1802, and, finally, between 1803 and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. And . . . even in the interludes of token peace, the two powers repeatedly plotted against and spied on each other. Their settlers and armed forces jostled for space and dominance in North America, the West Indies, Africa, Asia, and Europe. French clerics, intellectuals and tourists scrutinized Britain's political system, moral fibre and cultural achievements, and their British counterparts did the same with regard to France.25

One of the principal cultural effects of this struggle, according to Colley, was to enable the use of France as Other to construct what was distinctively British about a unified modern Britain, and French historians have recently started to explore the relevance of Colley's thesis to the case of France.26

From Colley's account, it would seem that dominant English and, by implication, French culture throughout the rise of the novel tends to reinforce the political hostilities reigning between these sister nations, but in fact this conclusion is complicated by the narratives of Anglo-French cultural exchange presented in this collection. For the very years Colley designates as constructing modern British identity are precisely contemporaneous with the cross-Channel invention of the novel, which can be very roughly dated (sticking, for the moment, with the already canonized classics) from Mme de Lafayette's 1678 La Princesse de Clèes to Sir Walter Scott's 1814 Waverley. And as the chapters in this volume demonstrate time and again, political hostilities diminished neither the intensity nor the cultural centrality of Anglo-French intellectual and literary exchange. To give only a few examples that also highlight the range of cultural links at issue in the Channel zone, the strategies for representing interiority devised by French fiction in the late seventeenth century and the first decades of the eighteenth century resulted in a series of English works that have long been viewed as the culmination of formal realism published during the 1740s, precisely as political tensions between France and Britain came to a head during the period of the Jacobite rebellion. According to Robert Dawson, "In 1760, in the midst of the Seven Years' War, there was . . . an attempt to publish an English newspaper in Paris," and Pierre Le Tourneur's "magnificent translation of Shakespeare" appeared in 1776-82, contemporaneous with French-English rivalry over the issue of the American War of Independence.27 The Napoleonic Wars did not prevent writers and readers on either side of the Channel from enjoying or reworking each other's fiction; indeed, as we will subsequently explain, the historical novel, perhaps the form most closely associated with imagining the origins of the modern nation, was facilitated by the generic fertilization catalyzed by trans-Channel exchange during this time.28 And even as Victorian disciplinary society was bolstered through invective against French immorality, G. H. Lewes went off to his bookseller after finishing Jane Eyre only to find "the new volumes of unfinished novels by Alexandre Dumas, enough to have tasked the energies of the British Museum to catalogue," along with "volumes by Théophile Gautier, Michel Masson, Madame Reybaud, Jules Sandeau, Badon, Feuillet, Roger de Beauvoir, d'Arlincourt, de Gondre-court," to say nothing of new books by Sand, Balzac, and Hugo. The transnational culture of the Channel zone differs from postmodern transnationalism not only in predating the nation-state and helping to shape its emergence but also by its position squarely at the center of national cultural formations, overdetermined and ambivalent as this position might be.

Colley writes of the extended conflicts between Britain and France that "the result was less a series of separate and conventional wars, than one peculiarly pervasive and long-drawn out conflict which rarely had time to become a cold war in the 20th-century sense."29 That the novel could be forged in the cross-Channel crucible during such a prolonged series of "hot" wars is truly remarkable; can we imagined a major new literary or cultural genre resulting during the cold war in interchanges between American and Soviet intelligentsia and audiences even as the two nations' leaders promised each other Mutually Assured Destruction? In foregrounding the ways in which culture may offer alternatives to political and economic formations as well as support them, the literary Channel reveals the importance of a concept that we have already mentioned as crucial to dismantling the longstanding authority of "rise of the novel" narratives and that will figure prominently here: the notion of uneven development. Just as Britain and France could share novelistic forms even while they differed in their political and economic formations, the Channel zone could perpetuate a vibrant transnational culture in a climate of intense political hostility. This is what Louis Althusser distinguished as the semiautonomy of culture relative to economic relations. More recently, Pierre Bourdieu has elaborated Althusser's insight into the need to study literature as a space of social production in its own right, imbricated in the other spaces of power defining societies but also functioning according to its own logic and rules.

In this volume we focus on institutions that are above all poetic. They include, notably, what Jameson in The Political Unconscious describes as the "social contract" of genre, as well as historically specific ways of practicing translation.30 At the same time, such poetic institutions were framed by salons and literary gathering places that offered homes to émigré intellectuals; a nascent media industry that transformed Richardson's Pamela into an international commodity within one year of its appearance; an Enlightenment republic of letters and science that was itself shaped in the Channel zone and helped to disseminate its effect; and Victorian critics whose reviews policed the boundaries of moral acceptability even as the surveillance effort itself reproduced the very moral transgressions it intended to combat.

The Literary Channel

The chapters in this volume contribute to an archaeology of transnational culture in keeping with the twin objectives that Moretti proposed as basic to the study of literature's spatial implications: the imperative to consider ways in which space is imagined within literature and the imperative to consider the social importance of space in shaping literary forms.31 Our collection rethinks the modern novel's contribution to the process by which "nation" in the abstract, and the nation-states of France and Britain in particular, emerged as "imagined communities" even as it offers case studies in the imagined construction of alternative transnational communities and the existence of a sociological zone of cross-Channel literary and cultural exchange. Because of the complexity of the processes we describe, we offer a brief overview of the major points of their development and mention some major figures, concerns, and texts that gave them shape.32 This overview also allows us to provide further details about our previous claims concerning the historical specificity of the transnational cultural formations considered here.

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the traffic in novelistic prose flowed far more actively from France to England than in the reverse direction. Following a more general pattern for the circulation of culture, the circulation of French texts in Britain was also encouraged by the return from France of the exiled Stuart court, the Restoration, and later the exodus of Huguenots in the wake of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685.33 Especially prominent within the larger framework of exportation, and thus to the developing novelistic form in both countries, were the heroic romances of such authors as Scudéry, La Calprenède, and d'Ufé; as well as Les Aventures de Télémaque, Fénélon's epic of Bildung; the new "nouvelle," Scarron's Roman comique; historical fictions and fairy tales; and memoirs of aristocratic life written not only by Lafayette and Madame de Villedieu but also, as DeJean observes, by French women in exile, notably Anne de La Roche-Guilhen and Marie-Catherine LeJumel de Barneville, comtesse d'Aulnoy.

Early British novelists were not only informed by the influx of texts from France; they were also its facilitators. Aphra Behn, for example, translated heroic romances and also produced her own version with a racially complex twist in Oroonoko or the Royal Slave (1688). Eliza Haywood, like Behn, adapted chroniques scandaleuses, and Delarivière Manley emphasized her relationship with French letters in no uncertain terms: the preface to her Secret History of Queen Zarah and the Zarazians (1705) presents a theory of the novel appropriated quite directly from French sources; she published The Lady's Paquet Broke Open (1707 and 1708) appended to translations of the memoirs of the comtesse d'Aulnoy; and she produced what is generally considered her autobiography, The Adventures of Rivella (1714), under cover of the claim that it was translated from the French.34

During this period there were, to be sure, individual works that traveled from England to France. In the 1720s, for example, both Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe were prominent in French bibliographies and reviews, following upon the popularity of Barclay's Argenis, a romance written in Latin, and Bacon's New Atlantis. What is not clear, however, is whether these texts were received as "novels" or as travel narratives and philosophical tales, for in this period Continental writers looked to England primarily for writing in science and philosophy.35 Meanwhile, the flow of French fiction, including the major novels of Prévost, Lesage, Tencin, Marivaux, Crébillon, Mouhy, Argens, Hamilton, Gomez, and Lussan, flooded the British marketplace throughout the 1720s and 1730s.36

The prominence of French texts in the British context enabled Bishop William Warburton to describe the novelistic lineage resulting in Clarissa within the terms of cross-Channel exchange: "[T]his great People (to whom, it must be owned, all Science has been infinitely indebted) hit upon the true Secret, by which alone a deviation from strict fact . . . could be really entertaining to an improved mind, or useful to promote that Improvement. And this was by a faithful and chaste copy of real Life and Manners: In which some of their late Writers have greatly excelled."37 Richardson, however, was none too pleased with Warburton's comments and suppressed them "as soon as he could."38 For Richardson, beginning with Pamela, was seeking a distinctively English novelistic form that would be close to life yet not licentious. In this effort he was writing against the popularity of texts such as Crébillon's Les Egarements du coeur et de l'esprit, itself a displacement of the chroniques scandaleuses produced by Behn, Manley, and Haywood.39

In Pamela and later in Clarissa, Richardson, as critics have argued, was concerned to represent a uniquely English form of moral virtue. By substituting domestic virtue for portrayals of worldliness and displacing worldly vice onto the French, Richardson continued the English interest in locating heroic subjects close to home. So it is perhaps ironic that Richardson's domestication of French worldly observation and complex interiority in turn paved the way for a new sentimental form in France, pioneered by Graffigny, Riccoboni, and Rousseau and featuring a newly authentic and distinctly unworldly narrator. As the case of Richardson should suggest, beginning in the 1740s, and in the context of the transnational nature of the republic of letters--salons in France, the global marketplace of coffeehouse culture in London--there clearly emerged a reciprocal economy of literary interchange across the Channel.40 Prévost, for example, translated Richardson, who in turn was of great importance for catalyzing sentimental fiction in France, even as William Godwin, Charlotte Smith, Sophia Lee, and Clara Reeve all worked to translate or imitate Prévost.41 Sarah Fielding, Henry Fielding, and Tobias Smollett were also prominent among the numerous English novelists favored in France during the 1740s and 1750s; as Sterne mentions in his letters, he may have been notorious across the Channel, but he was not yet translated.

And translation was indeed the medium through which much of this interchange was conducted. As Mary Helen McMurran argues in her chapter here, "National or Transnational? The Eighteenth-Century Novel," the modern novel began to emerge as writers simultaneously translated and rewrote a range of fictional prose genres; in this context rendering in another language was associated with translatio studii, "the transfer of culture through imitation, translation, or adaptation." The act of translatio, literally "bearing across," also involved translatio imperii, the transfer of power across space and time from one empire to another. McMurran demonstrates, however, that trans-Channel translations during the eighteenth century work--in both directions--to erode the presumption of nationalist hegemonies. Joan DeJean, in "Transnationalism and the Origins of the (French?) Novel," examines the role of French Huguenot translations to suggest that early modern translation not only disseminates culture from an imperial center but also works in an ambivalent fashion, simultaneously extending but also undermining that center's authority. In her account, the French Protestant diaspora that followed the revocation of the Edict of Nantes both exported and translated French generic practices--memoir novels and the fairy tale, notably--even as writers in exile promoted the importance of French as an international lingua franca.

DeJean's chapter on the role of the absolutist state in provoking transnational Huguenot culture underscores that cultural transnationalism of the early modern period predated the modern nation's emergence as an imagined community, a process not fully solidified, most scholars of nationalism agree, until the late eighteenth century.42 Such antiabsolutism was an agenda shared by the modern cultural nationalisms also forming at the time. As the chapters concentrating on the first hundred years of the novel's emergence repeatedly emphasize, the literary Channel of the eighteenth century was hence in a triangulated relation to the passage from an absolutist to a modern nation-state. It offered an alternative to absolutism, however, that could not simply be identified with the modern notion of the nation replacing absolutism in the arena of political theory and practice.

In the trans-Channel literary context such a triangulated relation finds expression in the construction of a sentimental code of universal humanity that transcends the worldly interests of nation. The chapters of Lynn Festa, April Alliston, and Margaret Cohen foreground the transnational appeal of sentimental fiction, which was arguably the dominant literary subgenre traveling across national borders between 1740 and 1848. These chapters view transnational culture through the lens of a literary genre that has been implicated in hegemonic practices--helping to form modern class identity also bound up in normative notions of national identity--and that at the same time existed as a form of hegemonic literary culture in an Enlightenment republic of letters. Cohen's "Sentimental Communities" focuses on sentimentality as an aesthetic and political intervention that works to consolidate both national and transnational ties. Sentimental fiction, Cohen argues, addressed contradictions in emerging liberalism both across national borders and within the political formations dominating on either side of the Channel. In "Transnational Sympathies, Imaginary Communities" Alliston situates the function of sentimentality and the imagined communities it constitutes in relation to Anderson's arguments concerning that imagined community of sentiment above all others: the nation. In the process, Alliston reveals sensibility's unsettling tendencies, its creation of communities that work against national borders and patriline transmission. The "idealized personal bond of sympathy," Alliston argues, is identified with the disruptive liminality of the Celtic fringe and works to represent "utopain imaginary communities that transgress the limits defining nations--as well as national languages, class distinctions, kinship relations, and legitimate sexuality." Festa's "Sentimental Bonds and Revolutionary Characters: Richardson's Pamela in England and France" further complicates an understanding of sentimentality's triangulated relation to the nation by bringing in another form of international cultural production central to the Channel: the consumer culture that appropriated Richardson's Pamela in a range of reworkings and imitations across media and genres whose popularity was not yet opposed to high-culture Enlightenment taste.

In their shared focus on the sentimental novel Festa, Cohen, and Alliston argue for a major effect of cross-Channel literary exchange. By viewing the development of the novel in the context of a transnational literary zone, they reveal an alternative community consolidated most explicitly in the sentimental form: the nationally marked exchange of literary subgenres between the late seventeenth century and the 1760s produced an ideal of the human, as the subject of the novel was less nation than normative humanness without markers of exclusive national identity. Viewed in the transnational context, sentimentality is the subgenre most closely correlated with this ideal and helps to constitute a range of codes for representing the interior, emotional qualities that demarcate a distinctive shared humanity.

The trans-Channel invention of normative humanness also realigns how we appreciate a range of eighteenth-century genres with strong national associations. From this perspective, such national identification does not precisely reinforce monolithic notions of national identity; rather, it confirms the existence of a nongeneric universal humanity by showing how it can vary according to local contexts. Examples of nationally grounded genres that come to serve as counterpoint to such universal humanity include the novel of worldliness, which was produced above all in France and which eighteenth-century English critics condemned for its licentious depiction of manners. Similarly, contemporary French critics debated British writers' consistent attention to life in low society and the particulars of material existence, even while French translators such as Prévost purged British novels of their excessive interest in material detail. And even sentimental fiction, while fundamentally a transnational genre, not only acquires specific English and French articulations, as Cohen argues, but is a privileged site for formulating what Alliston calls the pan-European vernacular of "national character."43

A history of the novel from the prespective of the Channel thus underscores the longstanding claim of feminist literary historians that "rise of the novel" narratives privileging realism displace the powerful presence of sentimentality in the literary field.44 A renewed focus on the sentimental as the modern novel's core, its generic infrastructure, enables a reconsideration of the novel's engagement with the project of education; again, this was an effort pursued by writers in both Britain and France in the later eighteenth century. While the flow of British cultural transmission into France was dominated more by the scientific and epistemological insights of Scottish Enlightenment empiricism than by novels, Marmontel's moral tales, in contrast, were equally beloved on both sides of the Channel and gave rise to a didactic project for the novel made famous in each nation, as in Europe more generally, by Rousseau's Emile (1762) and Genlis's Adèle et Théodore ou lettres sur l'éducation (1782).

In this collection, the transnational didactic project appears in the form of its monstrous progeny, which Deidre Shauna Lynch gives pride of place in "The (Dis)locations of Romantic Nationalism: Shelley, Staël, and the Home-Schooling of Monsters." Lynch interrogates the Janus-faced ability of romantic fictions to invigorate cultural nationalisms and yet, in their more general dismantling of borders, mobilize a critique of national hegemonies. The novels of Staël and Shelley, Lynch contends, "jointly disarticulate 'mother' from 'nature' and 'mother' from 'country' " and suggest "that the lessons of Romanticism do not have to be those obtained through home-schooling." Women writers erode the comforting ideal of mother country and mother tongue, exposing the uncanniness--indeed, the monstrosity--at the heart of a newly Gothic domestic vision. Lynch also stresses the importance of the Celtic fringe, so important in the work of Edgeworth, too, in offering an unhomed homeland for such "disarticulation."

The cross-Channel comparative context has long provided novelists on each side with a repository for all the characteristics of alterity. Even in the earliest French novels England figures as the "Other" nation-state whose existence plays a crucial role in defining a uniquely novelistic mode of history located at the intersection of private and public life. Thus, Lafayette's La Princesse de Clèves takes the distanced events of heroic romance and brings them to a court much closer to her audience's present, the court of Henri II, but also defines the private specificity of these events through an unrealized plot featuring a heroine beckoning from across the narrow sea. In this narrative the perverse history of Clèves and Nemours is a refusal of a distinctively public history in the form of Nemours' abandoned flirtation with Elizabeth; and it is also a counterpoint to the unlucky fate of Mary, Queen of Scots, who, the novel suggests, found the wrong way to mix politics and love.

Maxwell argues in the chapter "Phantom States: Cleveland, The Recess, and the Origins of Historical Fiction" that cross-Channel exchange is key in this process, for it serves to construct an unheimlich space that dismantles historical narratives binding family and nation together in a new alignment of personal and public history. In a reading of Prévost's Cleveland (1731-39) and Sophia Lee's The Recess (1785) Maxwell shows that the "phantom states" inhabited by royal pretenders serve as a metaphor "embodying, even justifying, dense literary mixtures of history and fiction." Historical novels offer a mode of imagining and also narrating history; the implication of the private sphere on the stage of history emerges through literary acts of Channel-crossing from Prévost to Lee, from Lafayette to Edgeworth, Cottin, Scott, Hugo, Dickens, and Balzac. When Balzac suggests that the novelist's ambition is to narrate the history of manners, forgotten by so many historians, he is in fact the inheritor of a long genealogy of transnational exchange.

Throughout the eighteenth century the cross-Channel zone of literary culture produced a vision of the universally emotive human subject abstracted from national difference and historical specificity. But with the rise of the nation as imagined community such universality itself bolstered a new, nationally articulated version of history. In turn, it became the basis of claims by novelists on each side of the Channel to offer novels that coordinated nation with narration. During the Napoleonic Wars, for example, patterns of cross-Channel exchange were notably uneven. In France, the value ascribed to English novels was emblematized by their prominence in works creating a newly French literary canon, such as La Harpe's Lycée, ou cours de littérature ancienne et moderne, even as, according to Marilyn Butler, "[f]or about a decade from 1802, . . . the importation or translation of books from France, which had before been a flood, was reduced to a trickle."45 Yet at the same time, the nineteenth-century historical novel, so closely bound to the emergence of cultural nationalisms, was itself a product of Channel crossings, not only, as Maxwell has suggested, in the way such crossings created imagined phantom states but as a vital site of generic cross-fertilization.

It is striking testimony to the semiautonomy of the literary Channel that this process occurred across the Napoleonic Wars; from this perspective, Scott's Waverly (1814) was as much the conclusion of twenty years of cross-Channel exchange as a new beginning. It brought together a number of subgenres, read on either side of the Channel, concerned to make sense of the violence of the Revolution: the Gothic, dominated by Radcliffe and Roche, the novel of manners (Opie and Edgeworth were most important in France, Austen to a notably lesser extent), a picaresque and immoral French comic novel, and an explosion of French sentimental fiction in the post-Revolutionary period, some of it with an explicitly historical focus, such as Cottin's Mathilde and Genlis's La Duchesse de la Vallière and Mademoiselle de Clermont. The historical novel also was shaped, as Katie Trumpener has discussed, from the interrogation of nationhood offered by Irish- and Scottish-identified writers around the turn of the nineteenth century, who simultaneously belong to an English literary tradition and resist Englishness through the assertion of political and cultural independence.46 Writers such as Morgan and Edgeworth, moreover, occasionally triangulated their alternative nationalist literary projects through generic allusion to French practices and through positive cultural representations associating the French with tolerant cosmopolitanism. Not only had the French historically been supportive of internal rebellion as a strategy to destabilize the British nation but such Francophilia allowed insurgent writers to mark their difference from the political and cultural xenophobia then prominent in Britain.

Once we become attentive to the Channel's implication in the colonial problematic, the England-France-colonies triangulation provokes reconsideration of the security of national borders even in those canonical authors most often credited with their defense. In "Gender, Empire, and Epistolarity" Françoise Lionnet reveals how such triangulation makes its way into Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, rereading the novel through its contemporary rewriting in Marie-Thérèse Humbert's La Montagne des Signaux (1994). Situating Mansfield Park in the context of its publication coincident with the signing of the Treaty of Paris and the accelerating abolitionist movement in Britain, Lionnet proposes that Austen foregrounds the unstable authority of writing, troubling novelistic distinctions between oral and written as well as official and vernacular languages. As the example of Humbert's text makes clear, this reformulates the power relations of colony and metropole within terms both gendered and melancholic. Lion-net suggests that Humbert, "writing from the antipodes, . . . refracts back to Austen the dynamics of transnational, postcolonial, and transcolonial cultural formations." Finally, Humbert and Austen, in dialogue with each other and through their use of the epistolary mode, make explicit the gendered nature of this extranational range of cultural formations.

If Scott's Waverley confirms the novel's new power to provide narratives of English national identity, it serves an analogous function across the Channel when it breaks upon the French literary scene about 1820. Initially viewed as popular entertainment, Scott's novels become increasingly valued, along with the international works they inspire, especially those of Cooper and Manzoni. This moment is worth underscoring for it marks the beginning of the transformation of the novel into an internationally based literary form and the power of this dissemination in turn to shape and dissolve the trans-Channel zone.47 Previously, isolated works from beyond the Channel zone had played a formative role in the history of the novel. These works include premodern prose that was widely read and appreciated in the early modern period, ranging from Heliodorus's Ethiopian Romance to Cervantes's Don Quixote.48 In the later eighteenth century the novels of Goethe celebrated in a cosmopolitan Enlightenment republic of letters figured prominently. But historical fiction inaugurated a moment of generalized international diffusion that dissolved the hegemony of the cross-Channel formation altogether.

Within France, the historical novel brought a solution to a problem that had troubled French writers of the 1820s: how to take account of the social divisions fissuring French society given the literary subgenres at writers' disposal.49 To represent the diverse classes and groups comprising the post-Revolutionary nation was a difficult challenge for the idealizing codes of sentimentality, though Sand's novels indicate that it was possible. Scott, however, provided an effective way to incorporate social specificity into sentimentality via the use of social detail that had long been the province of the British tradition, where writers were markedly more hospitable to empiricism. Scott's novels combined a core of sentimentality with a strongly descriptive style and a historical, often heroic plot, and his poetic innovations inspired diverse experimentation by a range of French writers. Balzac and Stendhal, for example, adapted Scott's methods by dismantling the ethical content of sentimentality, turning its struggles into an amoral game to succeed, in keeping with the older French novelistic paradigm of worldliness.

The cross-Channel field gained a new impetus from a decisive development in the 1830s that would influence all literary production to follow: the invention of mass-market literature. A product of cheaper techniques of printing, the first genres of mass literature were the novel and the newspaper, forms that Anderson argues underpin the constitution of the nation as imagined community. But much as the new mass novel may have fortified an individual sense of national belonging, these works in fact were much more cosmopolitan than is sometimes emphasized, and indeed the first communities of mass entertainment owed a great deal to the transnational communities forged in the context of cross-Channel exchange. No subgenre of mass fiction illustrates this more clearly than the sensationalized mystery novel, pioneered by Sue and Dumas in France and by Dickens and Reynolds in England, which was a cross-Channel publishing event before it swiftly achieved international fame.50

In their popular serial form these texts were produced through the integration of a range of nonfictional and fictional subgenres for depicting the new metropoles of Paris and London as urban, and national, capitals. At the same time, when they displaced the moral and physical heroism of a Scott or a Cooper novel from liminal territories to be conquered in the name of the nation to the urban jungle of the newly industrialized modern city, urban serial novels also devised a new international common denominator in the form of the great metropolis. The international appeal of these works was reinforced by their use of sentimental codes that historically had had the power to catalyze communities across national borders. Perhaps as a result, they exponentially expanded the non-nationally based communities of consumption that Festa has described, already catalyzed by Richardson's Pamela a century earlier. These were rapidly resituated and rewritten to suit local context by authors around the globe into, for example, Die Geheimnisse von Berlin, by Paul Thiel (1845); The Quaker City; or The Monks of Monk Hall, by George Lippard (1844-45); The Mysteries and Miseries of New York, by Ned Buntline (1848); Madrid y sus misterios, by Ramon de Naverette (1845-46); Los misterios de Barcelona, by J. N. Mila ` de la Roca (1844); and, as late as the 1860s, I misteri di Napoli, by Francesco Mastriani (begun in 1864), and Peterburskie Truschoby, by V. V. Krestovski (1864).

No gesture more confirms the urban serial novel's cosmopolitan potential than mid-Victorian efforts to domesticate its internationalism, which Carolyn Dever describes in " 'An Occult and Immoral Tyranny': The Novel, The Police, and the Agent Provocateur." Victorian British pulp detective fictions seek to secure national boundaries through a familiar gesture of displacement across the Channel, registering a newly absolute equation of the French with vice, erotic transgression, and moral dissolution. Dever shows that such a mix of fascinated revulsion destabilizes codes of English domestic virtue as much as it secures them. Detective fiction, the most popular literary genre of the later nineteenth and twentieth centuries, first took shape, Dever argues, as an expression of ambivalence concerning the Victorian forging of mechanisms of soft power; that ambivalence was expressed by displacement onto a mythic vision of France, where absolutism and the Terror met in domestic catastrophe.

In the mid-nineteenth century the cross-Channel literary zone persisted as a sociological institution even as national literary fields became strengthened in conjunction with an increasing devotion to the nation as an imagined community. In the context of developing copyright laws, for example, the covers of the first four serialized numbers of Dickens's Bleak House (1852-53) read: "NOTICE is hereby given that the author of 'Bleak House' reserves to himself the right of publishing a Translation in France." This suggests the remaining power of the cross-Channel context as well as the revision of juridical categories of authorship that reinforced distinctions grounded in national identity. That Dickens changed his notice in the fifth number to read "The Author of this Work notifies that it is his intention to reserve the right of translating it" should only underscore the sense in which the Channel remains the first line of national defense.51

Another important strategy for bolstering the national defense was the identification of literary history with national culture, a project that emerged in conjunction with the institutionalization of nationally based literary studies in both Britain and France. As Warner says of literary history in the British context, "During the nineteenth century, the novel was gradually nationalized. Influential critics such as Hazlitt and Scott came to understand novels as a type of writing particularly suited to representing the character, mores, landscape and spirit of particular nations."52 In France this process began with the Revolutionary-Napoleonic invention of modern cultural nationalism. Such nationalism found one of its principal supports in the creation of a centralized, comprehensive system of education in which a newly devised French literary canon played a prominent role.

The close links between a nationally based literary history and the cultural education of the citizen were epitomized in one of the first works to set this new canon's terms, Jean-François La Harpe's Cours de littérature française ancienne et moderne (1791-1804). Yet, as we have already mentioned, such was the prominence of the trans-Channel zone that La Harpe features the powerful eighteenth-century British contribution to the genesis of the modern novel and, indeed, demonstrates marked ambivalence over whether this work, along with the genre itself, should be nationally or universally identified. "For me, the premier novel in the world is Tom-Jones," he declares. Several paragraphs later, he has amended this statement to "Tom-Jones" is the best written novel of England."53 It should also be stressed that for La Harpe the cultural value of the novel is middling: he considers it a polite but in no way major literary genre, and his view is characteristic of critics on both sides of the Channel at the turn of the nineteenth century. The novel did not rise toward the pinnacle of the generic hierarchy until the 1830s and 1840s in France and the 1840s in England, a rise that was contemporaneous with the genre's taking on the ambitious project of representing a panorama of contemporary society. The trans-Channel perspective highlights how closely the novel's rising cultural value was aligned with the genre's insertion into a nationalist frame.

Once the novel became anchored squarely within national culture, the still powerful transnational connection was no longer likely to be expressed through an open rhetoric of homage and contestation, but rather obliquely, through "the overwhelming accumulation of negation, ellipsis, periphrasis, and metonymic allusions," as Sharon Marcus writes of the rhetoric of disavowal surrounding Victorian discussions of sapphism. In "Comparative Sapphism" Marcus suggests that Victorian critics mapped literary sapphism onto their cross-Channel literary Other as a means of moral displacement. "The sexual difference," Marcus writes, "between the French and British novel is also homosexual." Marcus locates the erotic politics of Victorian literary culture with its aesthetic politics, linking the British resistance to sapphism with a resistance to realism that critics expressed through their allegiance to idealism.

The death of Queen Victoria in 1901 offered symbolic closure to the nineteenth century and to the moral and aesthetic values of the Victorian period. But in some sense the century can be said to have ended a year earlier, in a highly symbolic act of Channel-crossing: following his release from Reading Gaol, where he had been imprisoned following his conviction on charges stemming from sodomy, Oscar Wilde left England to take up residence in Paris, converting to the Catholic Church at the moment of his death on 30 November 1900.

Wilde's retreat to France made literal a circuit of cultural exchange in which he had participated throughout his life as a poet, essayist, playwright, and novelist: the English aesthetes quite conspicuously embraced ideals of opulence and libertinism coded as French as a means of critiquing and rejecting the perceived rigidity of British social identity. Indeed, the aesthete's pleasures represent a veritable archive of Channel transgression. In Wilde's novel, Dorian Gray surveys the contents of Lord Henry Wotton's Mayfair library: "On a tiny satinwood table stood a statuette by Clodion, and beside it lay a copy of Les Cent Nouvelles, bound for Margaret of Valois by Clovis Eve, and powdered with the gilt daisies that Queen had selected for her device . . . [T]he lad was looking rather sulky, as with listless fingers he turned over the pages of an elaborately-illustrated edition of Manon Lescaut that he had found in one of the bookcases. The formal monotonous ticking of the Louis Quatorze clock annoyed him."54

From the perspective of French decadence, the invocation of cross-Channel alterity worked similarly, in the service not of national self-definition but rather of subversion. This subversion might have been called the Lord Dudley principle, in honor of one of its first powerful French formulations, in Balzac's La Fille aux yeux d'or (1834), a novel whose representations of sexuality were, Marcus shows, crucial to the definition of literary realism as French in the Victorian context. The biological "author," as Balzac puts it, of Henri de Marsay and Margarita-Euphémia Porrabéril, the two characters in competition for the affections of the girl with the golden eyes, is a shadowy Lord Dudley invoked only through hearsay, whose ability to transgress boundaries is such that, when inquiring after the identity of the handsome Marsay upon first meeting him as a grown man, Lord Dudley is reputed to have remarked only, "Oh! he's my son. How unfortunate!"55 In such usage the gesture of cross-Channel "othering" so prominent in the history of the novel takes on an altogether new significance; it becomes the means to subvert the categories constitutive of national identity and order, and bound up in this attack is the category of the novel itself.56

Displacement via England will hence be a paradigmatic gesture in a French decadent lineage crucial to defining avant-garde notions of transgression. This lineage finds its culmination in the Anglophilia of Des Esseintes, the hero of J.-K. Huysmans's A Rebours, and in Stéphane Mallarmé's protosurrealist efforts at an English grammar book (Mallarmé was himself an English teacher) in which he invents a hallucinatory, hilarious third language in the slippages between French and English. With this gesture Mallarmé turns cross-Channel othering to the alterity of what Kristeva and Barthes would later call textuality, which he aims against nationalism, consumption, pedagogy, and the clichés of touristic ethnography.57

Even after cross-Channel exchange had ceased to play a defining role in producing the modern novel, themes and issues from its history continued to resonate. In an afterword included to suggest the afterlife of the literary Channel into our own present, Emily Apter considers the contours of novelistic transnationalism in the new Europe, which takes the form of an intra-European novel engaged with shrinking national markers, a kind of "money market" or "middle management" literature subduing regionalist or minority narrative forms. In its millennial iteration, the supranational no longer transcends the oppressive dimensions to national organization but rather becomes the dehumanizing power of capital to annihilate specificity in the homogenous and sterile culture of global capitalism, while blatantly distasteful, indeed oppressive, nationalism becomes the last resistance of the universal human subject initially produced in the novel's international exchange.

Apter identifies this reversal transforming the literary Channel's complex interplay of novelistic genres into the anodyne generic of "Eurofiction" with the transformation of the literary Channel into the Chunnel zone. The year 1994 marked the inaugural run of a circuit of international exchange transforming the Channel into the Chunnel zone, in the form of the Eurostar linking London and Paris. The route's extension from Paris to Brussels, capital of the European Union, is an apt figure for the imperative to triangulate if we are to understand cultural crossings in the postmodern era. Transnational literary studies is also a development of the late nineties, and it is our hope that The Literary Channel not only recuperates previously marginalized literary and cultural formations but also suggests all that critics have to gain from such an archaeology. Claims about global and transnational culture now proliferate, as social processes of globalization are taken to a new level. These claims are often made with a historical amnesia that, while to some extent enabling, eventually ends up eroding the specificity of the very formations they are intended to describe. One effective way to approach the contemporary conjuncture is by exploring the practices of the past. Far from a detour, this inquiry illuminates not only the present's specificity but also those aspects of history that are currently very much alive.

The archaeology of inter- and transnational cultural formations poses a particular challenge to literary scholars, even comparatists, given the power of national identification as the logic organizing literary history since the nineteenth century. But the difficulty of this enterprise in no way diminishes its urgency, though it does heighten the need for collaboration, along with the need to accept, paradoxical as it might seem, that the only way to approach the global is through the fragmentary and the incomplete. In this volume we isolate key moments--points of inflection that are indicative but in no way exhaustive--across a broad historical arc. We will have met our aims if the range of our interventions suggests the alternative canons, social structures, and urgent methodological questions to be excavated from the Channel zone.

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