Google full text of our books:


The Lives of the Novel:
A History
Thomas G. Pavel

Winner of the 2015 Barbara Perkins and George Perkins Prize, The International Society for the Study of Narrative
Winner of the 2013 PROSE Award in Literature, Association of American Publishers
Shortlisted for the 2014 Christian Gauss Award, Phi Beta Kappa Society

Paperback | 2015 | $25.95 | £20.95 | ISBN: 9780691165783
Hardcover | 2013 | $39.95 | £32.95 | ISBN: 9780691121895
360 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400865468 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Introduction[PDF] pdf-icon

This is a bold and original original history of the novel from ancient Greece to the vibrant world of contemporary fiction. In this wide-ranging survey, Thomas Pavel argues that the driving force behind the novel's evolution has been a rivalry between stories that idealize human behavior and those that ridicule and condemn it. Impelled by this conflict, the novel moved from depicting strong souls to sensitive hearts and, finally, to enigmatic psyches. Pavel analyzes more than a hundred novels from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and beyond, resulting in a provocative reinterpretation of its development.

According to Pavel, the earliest novels were implausible because their characters were either perfect or villainous. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, novelists strove for greater credibility by describing the inner lives of ideal characters in minute detail (as in Samuel Richardson's case), or by closely examining the historical and social environment (as Walter Scott and Balzac did). Yet the earlier rivalry continued: Henry Fielding held the line against idealism, defending the comic tradition with its flawed characters, while Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot offered a rejoinder to social realism with their idealized vision of strong, generous, and sensitive women. In the twentieth century, modernists like Proust and Joyce sought to move beyond this conflict and capture the enigmatic workings of the psyche.

Pavel concludes his compelling account by showing how the old tensions persist even within today's pluralism, as popular novels about heroes coexist with a wealth of other kinds of works, from satire to social and psychological realism.

Thomas G. Pavel is Gordon J. Laing Distinguished Service Professor of French, Comparative Literature, and Social Thought at the University of Chicago. His books include Fictional Worlds and The Spell of Language.


"Pavel has written the most interesting and subtle one-volume history of the novel currently available."--James Wood, New Yorker

"I learned more from the fruits of [the] erudition and study in The Lives of the Novel than I can express."--Paul Kottman, Los Angeles Review of Books

"[D]eft, incisive. . . . Thomas Pavel is a superb guide to the range and enduring power of the realist mode."--Thomas Keymer, Times Literary Supplement

"Pavel's study raises questions that can enrich readings of a wide range of fiction: What does it mean to live a virtuous life? How can humans achieve justice? What is an individual's responsibility to the community? To what extent is self-knowledge possible? These enduring questions infuse this erudite, elegantly written history with passion and urgency."--Kirkus Reviews

"The Lives of the Novel, first published in French as La Pensée du Roman, is a superb work that deserves to be very widely read by academics, students and anyone interested in the novel. . . . [A]stounding and stimulating. . . . [A] generous-hearted work. . . . Intelligent, insightful and astonishingly well-informed, The Lives of the Novel is a major intervention and I imagine that it will become the standard work in this field, and remain so for years to come. Best of all, it was a pleasure to review because Pavel's love of literature just beams out of each page: reading this book is like the joy of meeting a stranger in a crowd at a pop festival and enthusing together about bands you both love."--Robert Eaglestone, Times Higher Education

More reviews

Table of Contents

Subject Areas:

Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

When this eBook becomes available, we will provide direct links to buy it. Until then,
check pre-order availability at these e-tailer sites by copying and pasting the eISBN

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

 Paperback : $25.95 ISBN: 9780691165783

Add to shopping cart

 Hardcover : $39.95 ISBN: 9780691121895

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

  • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

 Hardcover  £32.95 ISBN: 9780691121895

Add to shopping cart

 Paperback  £20.95 ISBN: 9780691165783

Add to shopping cart
View contents of your shopping cart

Prices subject to change without notice

File created: 9/7/2017

Questions and comments to:
Princeton University Press

New Book E-mails
New In Print
PUP Blog
Princeton APPS
Sample Chapters
Princeton Legacy Library
Exam/Desk Copy
Recent Awards
Princeton Shorts
Freshman Reading
PUP Europe
About Us
Contact Us
PUP Home

Bookmark and Share 
Send me emails
about new books in:
Comparative Literature
British Literature
American Literature
More Choices