The Post-World War II European Novel
The course will focus on novels whose distinctive quality is their setting in a different, mostly past era. Readings will include a selection from the following group of texts: John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, George Orwell’s 1984, Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day, Meša Selimović’s Death and the Dervish (one of the very few European novels engaging the Quran on a number of levels), and Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. We will examine how and why these novels choose a non-contemporary setting, and what they achieve by invoking late premodern, Victorian, early twentieth-century, or relatively recent historical periods (such as the World War II or the 1960s), or else by creating a dystopian image of future. While the course engages with some major theories of the novel (e.g., by Frye or Bakhtin, from McKeon’s edited volume), it will chiefly be centered on an in-depth study of the literary works.