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The Art of Fiction

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  1,052 ratings  ·  88 reviews
Revised, updated, enlarged, and published for the first time in book form--50 of critic and novelist Lodge's articles on the art of fiction from the acclaimed series that ran for 50 weeks in the Washington Post and the London Independent. Topics range from Dickens and Hemingway to Paul Auster and Fay Weldon.
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Viking Books (first published 1992)
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114th out of 194 books — 76 voters
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172nd out of 401 books — 32 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,162)
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Sunil
The very fact that the book has compelled me to put my thoughts here when I've barely finished reading a quarter of it is a reflection of how much a wonderful read it is.

What David Lodge has done is quite simple - he has chosen a variety of styles in fiction eg intrusive author, unreliable narrator, suspense, symbolism, magical realism, interior monologue etc and illustrated each of them with a passage taken from well known book with a succinct missive to go with them. The beauty of the book is
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Caroline
I'm not in the mood for fiction at the moment - I know, that is a ridiculously sweeping thing to say, but really I'm not. I had hoped that in reading this basic introduction to literary criticism that I might have a surge of wonder and excitement, see all that I was missing, and rush out and bury myself in a novel.

It was not to be. I huffed and puffed my way from chapter to chapter, feeling irritated and disgruntled. Firstly by the extracts from various novels - none of which appealed - and then
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Nandakishore Varma
Terrific introduction to literary theory for the layman. Loved it!

Review on my Blog .
Helle
I’m taking another online course at Oxford University (continuing education) this fall, and one of the books we have to read for the course is this one. I knew of David Lodge already but have never read anything by him. I love reading literary critique, or whatever you would call this compilation of extracts analyzed with different literary perspectives, especially when the author of the book is also a writer and can thus appreciate and not merely analyze the texts. The book is a relatively smal ...more
Michael
David Lodge is a very clearly erudite author. These essays are interesting for his insights and thought-provoking in terms of understanding how fiction is built by smart writers. Still, Lodge's occasional forays into conversation about his own work have a smack of arrogance that left me disappointed. Also, he refers at one point to Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Days of Solitude. Did no editor, in all of the reprintings of this book, notice and correct Days to Years? Or have most people not actu ...more
S.j. Hirons
Got me through college, man. Eventually I got my dog-eared copy signed by the man himself when he gave a talk at Warwick Uni.
Ricardo "Kerhex" Silva
This was a re-reading and I must confess that I also haven't really finished it yet, although I read almost all of it.

This is not a book you should read from beginning to end. "The Art of Ficton" is a really useful book for anyone who already has learned how to do creative writing but still needs to polish the technical part of writing. When I first read it, more or less a year ago, it was a pirate .pdf copy of the book. Back then I decided to read it out of curiosity, right after reading "Chagi
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Lobstergirl
Jul 31, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Dai Xianglong
Shelves: books-on-books
Professor and novelist David Lodge, in plain, clear prose unadorned by the baubles and thorns of academese, explains a variety of basic literary terms and ideas using examples from (mostly) the classic novels. Sample: "Metafiction is fiction about fiction: novels and stories that call attention to their fictional status and their own compositional procedures." Each short chapter (they were originally newspaper columns) begins with a longish excerpt from literature.

The book is occasionally marred
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Randy
The essays are short, concise, occasionally illuminating. Great for an undergrad. But perhaps a bit undercooked for the graduate or advanced reader--it is likely that this sort of person has already encountered or understands the concepts David Lodge touches on in his essays. You also will not find many contemporary samples--lots of Austen, Henry James, Fielding, and George Eliot. All excellent writers, of course. But the reliance on them gives the essays a whiff of that musty dusty smell we've ...more
N.J. Ramsden
I've dipped into this many times during my days of teaching Creative Writing, not to use as a foundation for classes so much as backup material, or the illumination of sidelines. Lodge covers pretty good ground, and though his selection of texts is reasonable, it's not exciting – and while he's on top of his material, and his analyses of his chosen pieces are astute, again there's a kind of safety to much of it that renders these essays informative and interesting, but not exactly inspiring.

If t
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Kate Goodrum
I liked the fact that David Lodge explored many components of fiction through the means of presenting a suitable extract and then discussing the relevant element; this gave the book a clear and effective structure.

I found it slightly cringey how often Lodge referred to his own work. Whilst I am sure that they are probably worth reading in their own rights, I found it uncomfortable how he himself put them alongside both the classics and modern classics.

I found that at the end of some chapters I
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Jm_oriol
Esta formado por una serie de artículos reunidos en forma de libro, que van examinando diferentes técnicas literarias.

Todos tiene la misma forma, a partir de un párrafo de una obra, comenta el concepto en cuestión. A pesar de ser ligeros, me lo he pasado muy bien leyendo los diferentes recursos a los que normalmente no presto atención, concentrado como estoy en la historia.
ماهر Battuti
كتاب رائع فى تبويبه عن فن الرواية والقصة . وقد بلغ إعجابى به أن قمت بترجمته الى العربية وصدر عن المشروع القومى للترحمة بالقاهرة.
ويتقسم الكتاب الى خمسين فصلا ، يقوم المؤلف فى كل فصل بتناول ناحية خاصة فى التأليف الروائى . وقد جدد من ذلك التناول ، ففى فصل يعالج اعتماد على الرسائل ، وعلى التليفون ، وهكذا . وهو من الضروريات لكل من يريد التعرف على فنون كتابة الرواية
Roozbeh
مباحث کتاب خیلی جذاب‌اند، اما بسیار مختصر به آنها پرداخته شده.
ترجمۀ رضا رضایی عالی است و فهرست‌های انتهای کتاب دقیق تنظیم شده‌اند.
Raul
This book is a collection of texts on literary criticisms which the author had published in the form of a weekly column on a newspaper.

The first chapter is entitled "The beginning", and the last chapter is entitled "The end". There are 50 chapters in total, and they all deal with different aspects of the art of fiction: suspense, surprise, introduction of characters, time, repetitions, intertextuality, unreliable narrator, stream of consciousness, metafiction, etc. etc., giving examples from cla
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Stela
No wonder this book is mandatory in the bibliography of many Literature students. It explains beautifully, by analyzing excerpts from various masterpieces, essential notions of literary theory and criticism. Even if its 50 sections were initially written for a weekly newspaper column, and with the declared intention to be comprehensible to a general public, "The Art of Fiction" introduces the basic notions for anyone who intends to lose the innocence of reading and become a critic en herbe.
Some
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Yoake
El arte de la ficción es una recopilación de artículos semanales que el escritor y crítico literario David Lodge publicó en el periódico The Independent a principios de los años 90 del siglo pasado. Todos los pequeños ensayos, cincuenta, tienen la misma estructura: un fragmento de una obra escrita en lengua inglesa y un comentario de texto que principalmente destaca el género literario, alguna característica o movimiento literario o simplemente algo que al autor le parezca digno de comentar.

Si
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Ben Eggleston
This book, consisting of fifty short essays, originated as a newspaper column that Lodge wrote (weekly, I think) in the early nineties. Each essay discusses some topic such as the intrusive author, interior monologue, the weather, the comic novel, irony, or the title. (On this last topic I was particularly interested to read the list of fourteen titles that Dickens considered for Hard Times; Lodge says that “Most of these suggest that . . . Dickens was preoccupied with the theme of Utilitarianis ...more
Tony Riches
What kind of knowledge do we hope to derive from reading novels, which tell us stories we know are not “true”? One traditional answer to that question is: knowledge of the human heart, or mind. The novelist has intimate access to the secret thoughts of characters denied to the historian, the biographer or even the psychoanalyst. The novel, therefore, can offer us more or less convincing models of how and why people act as they do.

Not my words but those David Lodge, one of my favourite authors,
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Nadyne
First sentence: "When does a novel begin?"

P. 99: "Intertextuality, in short, is entwined in the roots of the English novel, while at the other end of the chronological spectrum novelists have tended to exploit rather than resist it, freely recycling old myths and earlier work of literature to shape, or add resonance to, their presentation of contemporary life."

Last sentence: "A novel is a Gestalt, a German word for which there is no exact English equivalent, defined in my dictionary as "a percep
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Graham Salisbury
This book originated in the early 1990's when David Lodge was invited by the Independent on Sunday to contribute a series of weekly articles in which he chose a literary topic (such as Beginnings, Mystery, A Sense of Place, Allegory or Endings) and illustrated this with one or two short extracts from relatively well-known novels.

The constraint of a short weekly newspaper column has demanded that Lodge restricts his comments and analysis to the most significant elements of the passages that he h
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Damaskcat
David Lodge writes in a low key amusing style which makes these essays on fiction entertaining reading. The book contains fifty essays which examine all aspects of fiction including magic realism, point of view, chapters, surrealism, irony and the weather. His thoughts are illustrated with quotations from all types of fiction from the eighteenth to the twenty first century. He also shows how he has used various techniques in his own novels.

Reading this book helps the reader to understand how aut
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Janika
The author says that this is a book to dip into at leisure, and he's right. The essays in this book are clear, concise and readable, but seem to lack any sort of great wit or spark. The author's method is to give an example passage first to illustrate his point, then explain it in greater depth - unfortunately, I feel, with the shortness of these essays, any depth he goes into is still purely surface, thus rendering it kind of pointless. Also, he has an irritating tendency to deviate into talkin ...more
Matti
Nov 23, 2013 Matti rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all interested to get deeper into how fiction works, wannabe-writers naturally included!
This is among the most enjoyable popularizations of literary science - and a book I'd like to see translated into Finnish too. Lodge, retired professor of literature, originally wrote these little essays for Times Literary Supplement - if I remember right. There are 50 chapters, each dealing with a specific feature or view or whatever about fiction, e.g. Beginnings, Exotic, Unreliable Narrator, Suspense, Point of View, Epiphany, Magic Realism, etc. They begin with a citation from a work of ficti ...more
Sandrine Makowski
L'ouvrage que j'attendais : un auteur qui nous explique les secrets de l'écriture !!! Chaque chapitre (50 au total) est consacré à un thème : le début, les interventions de l'auteur, le suspense, le roman épistolaire, raconter à plusieurs voix ... Chaque chapitre commence par un extrait de texte en anglais tiré de la littérature anglaise ou américaine, immédiatement suivi de sa traduction en francais.
David Lodge a enseigné la littérature à l'université ce qui confère à cet essai une pédagogie si
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Rose
I really enjoyed this. Usually books like this are quite dry/a bit patronizing, but this didn't feel like that. It's been helpful in suggesting to me ideas for my own writing, and I imagine I will use things I learned from this in essays as well.
Darío
La metaliteratura siempre va bien para ampliar tus conocimientos sobre libros, autores y tácticas. Un buen libro, especialmente para los aficionados a la lectura o para los aprendices de escritura. :)
Elisa Gradwohl
This is a great book for explaining different writing techniques to writers and readers alike. Definitely a useful book.
Farzaneh Doosti
Introductions were satisfying, but not as comprehensive that I had thought. Recommended for literature students.
Ryan
For the common reader, a very friendly source book of literary concepts and devices (such as, metafiction, intertextuality, magical realism vs. surrealism, interior monologue vs. stream of consciousness, allegory vs. symbolism). Prof. Lodge made it look as if these aspects of fiction can be easily spotted in a book. The discussion of quoted passages from novels is very informative, except when Prof. Lodge discusses his own works. This is a big turn-off for me and so I'm never curious to put his ...more
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Professor David Lodge is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of University College London. He is Emeritus Professor of English Literature at the University of Birmingham, where he taught from 1960 until 1987, when he retired to write full-time.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, was Chairman of the Judges for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1989, and is the author of numerous works of li
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“J. D. Salinger's Holden Caulfield is a literary descendant of Huck Finn: more educated and sophisticated, the son of affluent New Yorkers, but like Huck a youthful runaway from a world of adult hypocrisy, venality and, to use one of his own favourite words, phoniness. What particularly appals Holden is the eagerness of his peers to adopt that corrupt grownup behaviour.” 2 likes
“What do we mean - it is a common term of praise - when we say that a book is "original"? Not, usually, that the writer has invented something without precedent, but that she has made us "perceive" what we already, in a conceptual sense, "know", by deviating from the conventional, habitual ways of representing reality. Defamiliarization, in short, is another word for "originality". I shall have recourse to it again in these glances at the art of fiction.” 2 likes
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