The Literary Channel: The Inter-National Invention of the Novel

2002
Author(s)
Publisher
Princeton University Press

The Literary Channel defines a crucial transnational literary “zone” that shaped the development of the modern novel. During the first two centuries of the genre’s history, Britain and France were locked in political, economic, and military struggle. The period also saw British and French writers, critics, and readers enthusiastically exchanging works, codes, and theories of the novel. Building on both nationally based literary history and comparatist work on poetics, this book rethinks the genre’s evolution as marking the power and limits of modern cultural nationalism.


In the Channel zone, the novel developed through interactions among texts, readers, writers, and translators that inextricably linked national literary cultures. It served as a forum to promote and critique nationalist clichés, whether from the standpoint of Enlightenment cosmopolitanism, the insurgent nationalism of colonized spaces, or the non-nationalized culture of consumption. In the process, the Channel zone promoted codes that became the genre’s hallmarks, including the sentimental poetics that would shape fiction through the nineteenth century.


Uniting leading critics who bridge literary history and theory, The Literary Channel will appeal to all readers attentive to the future of literary studies, as well as those interested in the novel’s development, British and French cultural history, and extra-national patterns of cultural exchange. Contributors include April Alliston, Emily Apter, Margaret Cohen, Joan DeJean, Carolyn Dever, Lynn Festa, Françoise Lionnet, Deidre Shauna Lynch, Sharon Marcus, Richard Maxwell, and Mary Helen McMurran.

About the Author

Margaret Cohen’s most recent book, The Underwater Eye: How the Movie Camera Opened the Depths and Unleashed New Realms of Fantasy, will appear in April 2022 with Princeton University Press. Her The Novel and the Sea (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010) was awarded the Louis R. Gottschalk Prize from the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies and the George and Barbara Perkins Prize from the International Society for the Study of the Narrative. She is also the author of Profane Illumination: Walter Benjamin and the Paris of Surrealist Revolution (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993) and The Sentimental Education of the Novel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), which received the Modern Language Association's Aldo and Jeanne Scaglione prize in French and Francophone literature. 

In addition, Margaret Cohen co-edited two collections of scholarship on the European novel: The Literary Channel: The Inter-National Invention of the Novel with Carolyn Dever (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), and Spectacles of Realism: Body, Gender, Genre with Christopher Prendergast (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). She edited and translated Sophie Cottin's best-selling novel of 1799, Claire d'Albe (New York: Modern Language Association, 2003), and has edited a new critical edition of Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary that appeared with W.W. Norton in 2004. In 2019, her co-edited The Aesthetics of the Undersea appeared (Routledge). She is general editor of A Cultural History of the Seas (London: Bloomsbury, 2021), and she is volume editor of A Cultural History of the Seas in the Age of Empire, the fifth volume of this six volume set spanning from antiquity to the present.