Fictitious Authors and Imaginary Novels in French, English and American Fiction From the 18th to the Start of the 21st Century

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Some of the greatest writers of fiction have introduced imaginary novelists as characters in their novels and short stories, sometimes including extended examples or descriptions of the character's work, in a few instances building whole smaller works into the larger structure of their novels. The present study, addressed to the general reader of fiction, is concerned for the first time with collecting and examining these fictional creations by some of the most famous French, English, and American writers, including Balzac, Thackeray, Dickens, Hawthorne, Trollope, James, Proust, Wolfe, Murdock, Updike, Roth, and Byatt, and also introducing readers to striking instances by lesser known writers. Imaginary fiction is often entertaining and readable in itself; in addition it can perform important literary functions for the plot and themes of the work in which it occurs, it provides both imaginary and real author opportunities for literary criticism and social satire, and it can also perform psychological and therapeutic purposes for the writer.


“I welcome the opportunity to write a preface to this work, which I find truly remarkable. It manages at once to be scholarly and entertaining. Let's admit it: most scholarly books are instructive but far from entertaining; in fact, they usually make hard, demanding reading. This work is different in this crucial respect that it is both interesting and pleasurable for the reader …[The] author, George A. Kennedy, has had a most distinguished career as a classicist. He is preeminent above all in the field of rhetoric in which he has for long been acknowledged as the leading, world- renowned scholar … Professor Kennedy explores the importance of imaginary novels and novelists in the diverse works in which they feature … [and] does a real service to today’s readers by directing their attention to a variety of writers central to Western tradition … this informative book’s combination of the highest scholarly standards with the cosmopolitanism of its broad perspective temporally and spatially assures its appeal to a wide readership.” – (from the Foreword) Lilian R. Furst, Marcel Bataillon Professor of Comparative Literature, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author/ editor of over twenty books.

“In this wide-ranging study of fiction, George A. Kennedy gives to readers that rare and delightful thing, a scholarly work that is pleasant to read. Here, Kennedy indulges at length his own reading taste and broad experience as he takes his readers on an informed and informative tour of works by writers ranging from Nathaniel Hawthorne to John Updike, from the venerable Plato to Marcel Proust, from Herman Melville to A.S. Byatt, all of whom have made some use in their writing of what must be recognized as "fictional fictions"-the imaginary fictional creations of writers who are themselves invented by the authors of the books in which they appear. Whether these imagined writers are extensions of their creators' characters, satirical jibes at their acquaintances, generous tributes, or antithetical beings to the writer who engendered them, all are interesting in their own right as they are manipulated by their own authors or, in some cases, rebel against those pen-wielding authorities to create some kind of independence. And, as Kennedy points out, they delineate the lines of later literary critical and theoretical discussion, prefiguring the authorial concerns of a post-modern world. Replete with ample appendices, this is a book for readers who love to read and to ruminate over what they have read in leisurely (and happy) hours.” – Dr. Phebe Davidson, University of South Carolina

Table of Contents

Preface by Lilian Furst
1. An Overview of Fictional Fiction
2. Laurence Sterne
3. Benjamin Disraeli
4. Honore de Balzac and George Sand
5. W. M. Thackeray and Charles Dickens
6. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville
7. Anthony Trollope
8. George Gissing
9. Henry James
10. Max Beerbohm
11. Hugh Walpole and Somerset Maugham
12. Marcel Proust
13. Anthony Powell
14. Aldous Huxley
15. Jorge Luis Borges
16. John Wain
17. Thomas Wolfe and Herman Wouk
18. Iris Murdoch
19. John Updike
20. Philip Roth
21. A. S. Byatt
22. Escaping the Text: Flann O'Brien, Raymond Queneau, and Another Look at Philip Roth's Zimmerman
23. Some General Observations
General Bibliography

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