Don Quixote

Literary archeology


The Boston Review on Steve Moore’s must-read history of the novel.

We tend to think of the novel as a more-or-less modern invention; the expression “Ancient Egyptian novel,” for example, seems a contradiction in terms. For this, we have etymology to thank. The word “novel” is a transliteration of the Italian novella (piece of news, chit-chat, tale), meaning a structured, realistic story, along the lines of Boccaccio’s Decameron.

Existential Ground Zero

Though today considered a minor classic (not least by Zadie Smith), Tom McCarthy’s 2005 novel Remainder was rejected by the mainstream before finding Parisian art-house publishers Metronome Press. It is a novel about authenticity, about failed transcendence, about death, themes McCarthy continues to explore both in his novels (Men in Space, the Booker shortlisted C) and with his ‘semi-fictitious’ art organisation the INS.