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At last, an answer to the question of ‘what is a novel?’ as provided by author, Tom McCarthy, interviewed for The Birth of the British Novel (BBC4):

“A novel is something that contains its own negation. A novel isn’t a novel unless it has an anti-novel lodged in it. It’s like an oyster isn’t interesting unless it has a bit of grit in it; that not-oyster bit that produces the pearl. The central drama of its book is its own undermining.”

So, nothing to do with characterisation, plot, providing an insight into the human condition or even social commentary, then?


One comment

  1. @Jane: I may have to quote you on that when I post review of the Show! Caught the re-run yesterday having missed Tom McCarthy’s segment first time round.

    It’s this kind of BA foundation course, up-its’-own-tailpipe, self-reflexive intellectual BS that got me out of accademia.

    It was the one thing that spoilt an otherwise execellent, if a little over-earnest show. I still don’t know what BBC4 is for; what’s wrong doing your thinking on BBC2? RC

    Comment by Robin Catling on April 23, 2011 at 4:36 pm