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Empty Houses:
Theatrical Failure and the Novel
David Kurnick

Book Description | Table of Contents
Introduction [in PDF format]

ADDITIONAL REVIEWS:

"Another impressive study is David Kurnick's Empty Houses . . . Kurnick supports his argument with incisive, subtle readings of passages from major novels by his four authors as well as from such less frequently studied works as Thackeray's Lovel the Widower and George Eliot's The Spanish Gypsy."--John O. Jordan, SEL Studies in English Literature

"David Kurnick's rereading of the novel of interiority is undoubtedly far-reaching, yet it is far from monolithic. Part of the strength of his work lies in the varied texture that he gives to his ideas as he explores how writers spanning more than one-hundred years used their experiences with the theater to reshape their prose."--David Kornhaber, Ravon

"Empty Houses: Theatrical Failure and the Novel advances a sophisticated, highly nuanced argument about the relationship of drama, performance, and fiction. . . . Kurnick's argument . . . is formidable and skillfully executed. . . . [V]ery often brilliant and incisive."--Stephen Watt, James Joyce Literary Supplement

Empty Houses, informed by Kurnick's nuanced and convincing formalist readings, is not only an important contribution to narrative theory and genre studies, but also offers insights into several issues that literary scholars have either dismissed or taken for granted, with authorial intention, literary failures, and canonicity being among them."--Philip Tsang, Textual Practice

"While Kurnick includes fascinating histories of both the nineteenth-century theatre and the allure it held for the aforementioned authors, as well as careful inclusions of other critical interpretations of the fictions he considers, it is Kurnick's own original and ground-breaking analyses of the impact of these unperformed plays, and plays that might have been, that make Empty Houses such a worthwhile read."--Susan Ray, George Eliot-George Henry Lewes Studies

"Kurnick has discerned a 'melancholy of generic distinction' whose ramifications far exceed the novels and novelists on whom he builds his argument."--Jonathan V. Farina, Wordsworth Circle

"Kurnick's radiant and rigorous book . . . has the rare quality of appealing to both theater and novel critics, and in bridging these worlds it enjoins us all to wider aspirations. . . . The argument is intricately nested and wrought in vivacious and exhilarating prose."--Daniel Williams, Modern Language Notes

ENDORSEMENT:

"This brilliant book examines the close relations between theater and narrative fiction as the Anglophone novel took its famous interior turn between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing on a wide range of critical approaches to unsettle prevailing ideas about the antitheatrical bias of the novel and the increasing separation between the two genres, this will be recognized immediately as a mind-changing contribution to the history of the novel."--Rosemarie Bodenheimer, Boston College

"Through masterly analyses of what he strikingly calls 'the melancholy of generic distinction,' Kurnick explores the relations between personal psychology and collective aspirations, and between aesthetic expression and various social formations and the political imagination. Original and brilliantly argued, Empty Houses will permanently change the way we look at the history of the modern novel."--Leo Bersani, professor emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

"This book radiates an exciting and often inspiring critical intelligence. Kurnick demonstrates--in surprising, original, and thought-provoking detail--how the lapsed enterprise of playwriting rests at the uncanny center of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century novel. In the antagonistic and intimate relationship between the novel and public theater, Kurnick's book gives us an unexpected way to reconsider the novel's troubled, restless negotiations with its own generic identity."--Alex Woloch, Stanford University

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File created: 4/18/2014

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