Mark Greif on Esteem for the Novel

In his important new book, The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America 1933-1973, Mark Greif, discussing writers like Ralph Ellison and Saul Bellow and related 1950s-era debates about what was expected, then, of fiction, points out that there was much talk at the time about the “death of the novel” as a major literary genre and cultural force. At the same time, though, and thanks to books like Invisible Man and The Adventures of Augie March, “esteem for the novel and the novelist, in the abstract, was at a peak,” because the thoughtful American public looked to novels as the best possible venues for a revitalization of the very concept and concerns of the human person for a new era. Reading them, our moral captivation lasts.

~Randy Boyagoda

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