A French version of this wide-ranging history of the European novel first appeared more than ten years ago as La pensée du roman. Based on this title, one might think that Thomas G. Pavel is concerned with how the novel “thinks,” how it represents thought, or how thought as a critical practice applies to the novel. But these are not his concern. The English title is more accurate in that Pavel is concerned with the novel's various lives in a biological sense: “[L]iterary genres evolve and morph into one another through internal mutations, not unlike biological species” (10). The novelistic genre has thus been reborn several times during the past two millennia, growing to maturity and decadence in each successive reincarnation. But the original title is better in that the word roman, which makes no distinction between ancient and...

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