This is a comprehensive history - and controversial reappraisal - of the world's most popular and innovative literary form. Encyclopedic in scope and heroically audacious, "The Novel: An Alternative History" is the first attempt in over a century to tell the complete story of our most popular literary form. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the novel did not originate in 18th-century England, nor even with Don Quixote, but is coeval with civilization itself. After a pugnacious introduction, in which Moore defends innovative, demanding novelists against their conservative critics, the book relaxes into a world tour of the premodern novel, beginning in ancient Egypt and ending in 16th-century China, with many exotic ports-of-call: Greek romances; Roman satires; medieval Sanskrit novels narrated by parrots; Byzantine erotic thrillers; 5000-page Arabian adventure novels; Icelandic sagas; delicate Persian novels in verse; Japanese war stories; and even Mayan graphic novels. Throughout, Moore celebrates the innovators in fiction, tracing a continuum between these premodern experimentalists and their postmodern progeny.
Irreverent, iconoclastic, informative, entertaining - "The Novel: An Alternative History" is a landmark in literary criticism that will encourage readers to rethink the novel.