English 125C

The European Novel: The Many Faces of the 19th-Century European Novel

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2020 Golburt, Lyubov
TTh 2-3:30 182 Dwinelle


The novel emerged as the principal literary genre in 19th-century Europe and has continued to dominate the literary market in Europe and North America ever since. What were the constitutive formal elements as well as social and psychological concerns of novelistic narrative in the period of its greatest ascendancy? Focusing on a selection of novels from the German, English, French, and Russian traditions, this course examines the many guises the novel assumed in the process of its becoming, over the course of the 19th century, the central genre within which key social, political, and aesthetic issues of its time could be deliberated.

All novels considered in this course are markedly experimental. Each showcases a different dimension of the novel genre: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774) is a sentimental epistolary novel; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818), an epistolary Gothic horror novel that also lays the groundwork for the emergence of science fiction; Alexander Pushkin's Eugene Onegin (1823-1831), an ironic and fragmentary novel in verse; Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary (1856), a novel that establishes the model of modern realist narration; and finally, Leo Tolstoy's magisterial War and Peace (1865-1869), a text that can be loosely termed a historical novel while raising crucial questions about the very premises of what it means to be historical and novelistic.

Book List (specified editions are highly recommended; print versions preferred to digital):  Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther, trans. David Constantine, Oxford World Classics, 978-0199583027; Shelley, Frankenstein, ed. J. Paul Hunter, Norton Critical Editions, 978-0393927931; Pushkin, Eugene Onegin, trans. James Falen, Oxford University Press, 978-0199538645; Flaubert, Madame Bovary, ed. Margaret Cohen, Norton Critical Editions, 978-0393979176; Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. Louise and Aylmer Maude, Norton Critical Editions, 978-0393966473

This section of English 125C is cross-listed with Slavic 133.

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