“The Novel Comes of Age” aims to discuss the importance of conversation as Anna Laetitia Barbauld instantiates it in her Lessons for Children and Hymns in Prose for Children and in Evenings at Home, which she and her brother John Aikin jointly authored. As Barbauld lays out her account of the novel in her early treatment of the novel as a genre, she identifies the prominence of conversation as its distinctive feature. Exchanges—and particularly exchanges that take the form of riddles and solutions—suggest how the novel both documents the movements of consciousness and establishes a realism more reliant on dialogue than on thick description of setting.
The Novel Comes of Age: When Literature Started Talking with Children
frances ferguson is Ann L. and Lawrence B. Buttenwieser Professor of English and the College and the chair of English at the University of Chicago. Her current interests are on the rise of mass education (around 1800) and the history of reading and practical criticism. She has recently published essays on the work of I. A. Richards and D. A. Miller and on Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s influence in Britain.
Frances Ferguson; The Novel Comes of Age: When Literature Started Talking with Children. differences 1 May 2017; 28 (1): 37–63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-3821688
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