Politics and the Novel clarifies the role of revolutionary ideas in fiction, establishing the role of the political novel, and tracing the growth of this novel into the 20th century. Examples are drawn from such classics as Stendhal's The Red and the Black, Dostoevsky's The Possessed, Conrad's The Secret Agent, and Turgenev's Fathers and Sons.
Howe examines how American novels failed to integrate ideology into their works, including DeForests' Playing the Mischief, Adams' Democracy, James' The Bostonians, and Hawthorne's The Bilthedale Romance. he also discusses political fiction after World War II: Kundera's Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Naipaul's Bend in the River, and Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, among others.
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