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The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  2,433 ratings  ·  191 reviews
Kindle Edition, 256 pages
Published April 28th 2012 by Vintage Digital (first published October 12th 1992)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts, David Lodge

The Art of Fiction is a book of literary criticism by the British novelist David Lodge.

The chapters of the book first appeared in 1991-1992 as weekly columns in The Independent on Sunday and were eventually gathered into book form and published in 1992.

The essays as they appear in the book have in many cases been expanded from their original format. Lodge focuses each chapter upon one aspect of the art of fiction, compr
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Nandakishore Mridula
Literary criticism is often daunting for a novice. I have ploughed through a lot of serious critical tomes in my life (most of them in Malayalam) to enhance my reading experience, but I must confess that I have been only partly successful: many of those erudite essays were way over my head. And when it comes to literary theory, I must shamefacedly say that I have still not understood the difference between “Classicism”, “Modernism” and “Post-Modernism”. Any mention of “Deconstruction” is enough ...more
Sunil
Aug 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
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
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Liam
Apr 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literature reviews are very personal things. In school you learn English Language too, by which judgements of narrative quality, or what I as a scientist would rather call 'narrative efficiency', can be made based on the author's effective use of structural stylistic elements — punctuation, syntax and concision.

The short story is that if you want to develop original and kickass reflections of literary criticism for high school novels or plays you must write essays on, this is a brilliant book th
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Lea
This book from the 90s is a collection of short columns about fiction, with topics like "the ending", "structure of a novel", "the title", etc. Each column/essay is only a few pages long and is centered around an abstract from a piece of literary fiction, mostly novels.

For a book on literary critique it's rather easy to read, also because the short sections aren't linked in any way. You don't need a long attention span. On the other hand, I found the book rather superficial. I'd hoped to maybe
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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
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Stela
No wonder The Art of Fiction is mandatory in the bibliography of many Literature 101 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 e ...more
Smiley
Mar 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first picked it up some months ago and browsed some pages inside, I didn't want to read it due to its seemingly formidable technical terms in 50 headings but I later changed my mind due to its affirmation as follows, "Bringing to criticism the verve and humour of his own words, David Lodge has provided essential reading for students of literature, aspirant writers, and anyone who wishes to understand how literature works." (back cover) Moreover, Professor Lodge's fame and contribution as ...more
Caroline
Nov 21, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: miscellaneous
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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Fonch
Apr 28, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first of all, that i must say before that i write my review is saying, that "Art of fiction" was written by David Lodge. It is not a bad book. If "Art of fiction" had been a bad book i would have rated with two, or one star.
I must recognise, that David Losdge writes rather well, and he is a perfect Professor of Literary Theory. The topics, which he speaks are well chosen. It is a good point the division of the chapters in fifty chapters. The book is really good translated to spanish.
In my op
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Helle
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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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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Michael
This is the book that taught me how to read books. It provides a comprehensive set of critical tools for the everyday reader, and since its examples all tend to make you want to read the books they come from, it also gives you an outstanding syllabus of novels to try them out on. It was a brand-new book when I bought it; now it's dated but still rock-solid. It makes me giddy to think that I could have chosen not to buy it; I think the 25 years since would have gone a lot differently. ...more
Zahra
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Notes:

• Short&accessible chapters that stand entirely on their own
• Accessible writing that’s ideal for short attention spans – and mines is the shortest of them all
• Can be enjoyed from the perspective of a writer or a reader
• Contains general and widely known info with the occasional nugget that’ll give you a lightbulb moment
• I like to think it'll make me a better writer without, you know, practicing writing like one should

Rating: 3.75 stars
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Daniel Schechtel
If you are looking for a book who teaches you the language of literature, the craftwork, so as to improve both your reading and your writing, THIS is the book you want.
Based upon classic novels in the English Language, David Lodge shows you the different tools a writer serves upon to create fiction. I just LOVED it.
S.j. Hirons
Aug 12, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Alice
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, writing
I've only ever read one of David Lodge's novels - The British Museum Is Falling Down - but I'll be seeking out more, because I really enjoyed this collection of columns on the art and history of the novel. If I can retain all I learned, it will improve both my experience as a reader and my ability as a writer. ...more
Chris
Feb 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The cover of this collection of essays features a striking image by Van Gogh of a woman reading a novel. Her surroundings are strongly lit by a bright light, while she herself, her face especially, is in shadow (you can still see the anxiety in her face); the only blemish for me is the clumsily rendered fingers of her left hand.

In a way this perfectly captures the impact of this non-fiction study: a lot of light is thrown on how British and American writers achieve the effects that are found in
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Robert Day
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I simply love the way that David Lodge writes fiction so it is very fitting that he should be the one to write a book about the art of writing fiction.

He's very good at writing non-fiction too. Everything he explains in this book is done so using language that is clean, clear and easy to understand, and although this book didn't inspire me to write anything (aside from this review) it did give me some good ideas of what to write about.

When I actually get around to doing it that is.

I'm not sure w
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Lobstergirl
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: Dai Xianglong
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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Michael
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Pol
May 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beyond explaining the workings of fiction to general readers, Lodge does well in laying the foundations for a student of literature's understanding of tropes like point of view. I would love to see this expanded into a weightier book – as it is, the book is a bit shallow in terms of the depth covered (though it is no fault of Prof Lodge), and perhaps the tropes of fiction summed up for general readers should've been another work. ...more
Tom
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
exceptionally useful for learning how to spot different aspects of fiction, though quite dry reading at points
Nina
The Art of Fiction is a textbook that isn't really a textbook, but a collection of newspaper articles on the art of fiction that has been reworked into something resembling a textbook.

(Amusingly, seeing as it only relates to novels, it has also been published in the format of a novel.)

It is an enjoyable introduction to literary criticism and various literary devices, and as it wasn't originally intended to be a textbook, I can forgive the author for waffling on a bit about his own novels and o
...more
LindaJ^
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, books
This was the last non-fiction book of my 2019 non-fiction November but life intervened and I did not finish it until well into December. I found it quite educational in a fun way. Each short chapter discussed a literary term, e.g., names, place, magical realism, stream of consciousness, unreliable narrator, etc. Each chapter starts with a quote that highlights the term to be discussed. I now have a better understanding of many terms used to describe the style of a work of fiction.
Liz Fenwick
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been reading this book on and off for a year...dipping in and out. I've found it enlightening and useful. It reminded me of things I had studied and known once and showed me many new techniques in fiction. It's a book I know I will dive in and out of for reference. ...more
Daniel Allen
May 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cheers Mr.Lowe. Thanks for the suggestion.
Leonie
Oct 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a useful reference and refresher for any author, whether established, aspiring or anywhere inbetween.
Peter
May 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was on all my uni recommended reading lists. With hindsight, having read this book earlier would have been super useful...
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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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“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.” 9 likes
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