Wide-ranging essays that examine Laurence Sterne alongside writers from the past three centuries
“For five decades, Melvyn New has been one of the leading critics of eighteenth-century literature, as well as one of the most important editors in the field. Styled as ‘conversations’ overheard between texts, the essays gathered in this volume celebrate the power of literary genius. Great literature matters, New argues, and, in these essays, he shows us just how and why.”—Elizabeth Kraft, coeditor of On Second Thought: Updating the Eighteenth-Century Text
“New develops arguments about Sterne and related writers that are essential reading for anyone doing serious work in eighteenth-century British literature. The essays extend beyond eighteenth-century studies to offer incisive analyses of well-known and less known modernist fictions and subtle explorations of relations between literature and religion, as well as trenchant assessments of turns taken by literary theory over the past thirty-five years.”—Donald R. Wehrs, editor of Levinas and Twentieth-Century Literature: Ethics and the Reconstitution of Subjectivity
In this collection of essays representing fifty years of scholarship on Laurence Sterne, Melvyn New brings Sterne into conversation with other authors—both his contemporaries, such as James Boswell and Samuel Richardson, and modernists, such as Marcel Proust and James Joyce.
New begins by focusing on Sterne’s texts and their sources, discussing the purposes of his famous borrowings from past writings, his Anglicanism, and his reliance on John Norris of Bemerton. This section concludes with an argument for the removal from Sterne’s canon of “The Unknown World.” New then offers several readings based on placing diverse texts in proximity, Charles Dickens’s Dombey and Son alongside the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas, and Samuel Johnson’s “London” against T. S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The final section offers several proximate readings of Sterne alongside his contemporaries, Jonathan Swift, Richardson, and Boswell, and modernist authors and texts—Proust, Bruno Schulz, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
As he brings these varied authors together, New suggests that literary greatness inheres in the uncertainties and mysteries—in the words of Keats—of works proven capable of attracting thoughtful attention over varying times and wide spaces. He encourages the continued teaching of these challenging texts in the future of literary studies.
Melvyn New, professor emeritus of English at the University of Florida, is the general editor of the nine-volume Florida Edition of the Works of Laurence Sterne. He is coeditor of the four-volume Sir Charles Grandison in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Samuel Richardson.
No Sample Chapter Available
There are currently no reviews available