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The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts
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The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  1,239 ratings  ·  99 reviews
The articles with which David Lodge entertained and delighted readers of the Independent on Sunday and The Washington Post are now revised, expanded, and collected together in book form.

The art of fiction is considered under a wide range of headings, such as the Intrusive Author, Suspense, the Epistolary Novel, Time-shift, Magic Realism and Symbolism, and each topic is il
Paperback, 256 pages
Published July 1st 1994 by Penguin Books (first published 1992)
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Books about Books
124th out of 690 books — 1,113 voters
Illuminations by Walter BenjaminThe Western Canon by Harold BloomAspects of the Novel by E.M. ForsterThe Art of Fiction by David LodgeExistentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre by Walter Kaufmann
Works of Literary Criticism
4th out of 98 books — 27 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,553)
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The very fact that the book has compelled me to put down my thoughts here when I've barely finished reading a quarter of it should reflect on 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 a well known book with a succinct missive to go with them.

The beauty of the b
Nandakishore Varma
Terrific introduction to literary theory for the layman. Loved it!

Review on my Blog .
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
Ian Laird
David Lodge’s book has made me think differently about my reading: indeed to read differently.

Lodge examines aspects of approach and technique authors use to enhance our understanding of what they do to tell their fictional stories. He does not deconstruct so much as analyse the angles we can use to understand and appreciate fiction. And he provides some telling examples. He talks about, among other things: beginning, ending, the intrusive author, the stream of consciousness approach, place, wea
من با ترجمه ی تحت اللفظیش خیلی مشکل داشتم با اینکه مترجم از ترجمه های موجود در بازار ایراد گرفته بود.
کتاب خوب بود. چیزایی که باید بگه رو گفته بود. مثلا اینکه داستان نویسی یاد دادنی نیست.
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
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.
Mary Catelli
A series of themes that feature in fiction. Starting with "Beginnings" and ending with "Endings."

Cites a lot of classic works, but also some modern ones, and his own works, especially when he wants to talk about the writing process, which naturally, he knows better in his own works. Such as how he was stymied on a character's name until he found that Robin was sometimes a woman's name, short for Roberta.

Ranges all over from Weather to Intertextuality. Tends toward the literary. Some are more int
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
Ricardo 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
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
Jul 31, 2011 Lobstergirl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
Toni Cifuentes
Jun 29, 2015 Toni Cifuentes rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Cualquiera a quien le guste escribir, leer o ambas cosas.
Un libro completísimo. He tardado mucho en leerlo porque es de estos libros que puedes ir leyendo poco a poco. Mediante el análisis de pequeños fragmentos de diferentes escritos y autores, conocemos técnicas, corrientes literarias, autores desconocidos y más conocidos, estructuras, técnicas, tropos, casi todo lo concerniente al arte de escribir de una forma enormemente entretenida.
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
Lauren Fidler
reevaluating my AP summer reading...

i like that this text offers excerpts that illustrate its main points in addition to tautly written chapters defining each subject.

i just don't know if i like it more than my current Foster text.

A great book for writers and literature students.
Malek Al Lahham
some techniques and articles , of how to write and understand the Novel.
Though i studied it in my major as English Literature, but i come back to it to re-read it again, because it builds a solid basic information of understanding the techniques of novel writing.
thanks to my professor to whom i owe a great thanks for making me a great lover to this book and other similar books, Mr. Riyadh Mathkaloun
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
I found this an interesting and illustrative text, full of good reading recommendations. Lodge's style is clear and his erudition on the English novel is remarkable.
مباحث کتاب خیلی جذاباند، اما بسیار مختصر به آنها پرداخته شده.
ترجمۀ رضا رضایی عالی است و فهرستهای انتهای کتاب دقیق تنظیم شدهاند.
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
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
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.
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.

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,
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
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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  • Aspects of the Novel
  • An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory
  • How Novels Work
  • How to Read a Poem
  • How Fiction Works
  • Beginning Theory: An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory (Beginnings)
  • Bound to Please: An Extraordinary One-Volume Literary Education
  • 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
  • On Literature
  • The Common Reader
  • The Art of the Novel
  • Morphology of the Folktale
  • The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages
  • The Novel: A Biography
  • The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
  • Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930
  • Lectures on Literature
  • Studies in Classic American Literature
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
More about David Lodge...
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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.” 3 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.” 3 likes
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