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Empty HousesTheatrical Failure and the Novel$
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David Kurnick

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780691151519

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691151519.001.0001

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Interiority and Its Discontents

Interiority and Its Discontents

(p.1) Introduction Interiority and Its Discontents
Empty Houses

David Kurnick

Princeton University Press

This introductory chapter provides an overview of the book's main themes. The book considers the contribution of writers' theatrical ambitions to their invention of what by many accounts are among the most “novelistic,” and thus reputedly individualizing, of novels. It demonstrates that the novel's interior spaces are lined with longing references to the public worlds they would seem to have left behind. The book considers four would-be playwrights noted for their antitheatricality. From William Makepeace Thackeray's hatred of pretense and George Eliot's suspicion of vain women to Henry James's early diagnoses of the culture of publicity and James Joyce's contempt for Buck Mulligan's performative flourishes, these writers are capable of rhetorically employing “theater” as a synonym for everything they most despise.

Keywords:   novel, novelists, theater, William Makepeace Thackeray, George Eliot, Henry James, James Joyce, antitheatricality

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