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American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity$
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Melanie V. Dawson and Meredith L. Goldsmith

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813056043

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813056043.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 24 May 2022

Writing into Modernity

Writing into Modernity

Edith Wharton’s The Writing of Fiction

(p.77) 3 Writing into Modernity
American Literary History and the Turn toward Modernity

John Nichols

University Press of Florida

Chapter 3 situates Edith Wharton’s guidebook The Writing of Fiction within a culture of advice that traverses the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The essay argues that Wharton’s text formulates relational, comparative aesthetics that place contemporary modernist experimentation (such as stream of consciousness narration) within novelistic traditions developed the nineteenth century. Additionally, The Writing of Fiction emphasizes twentieth-century novelistic investigation of character subjectivity that challenges nineteenth-century novels’ portrayals of characters in relation to their historical conditions. While Wharton’s guidebook has often been read as a reflection upon her own writing practices, this essay submits that within a genre of advice about writing, Wharton’s guidebook addresses a wider conceptual field: the novel’s exploration of character identity within modernity.

Keywords:   Edith Wharton, advice, fiction, modernity, modernist, novelistic traditions, stream of consciousness, nineteenth century, twentieth century, aesthetics

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