Although we have heard a great deal over the past few decades about how best to synthesize the study of politics and form, Claire Jarvis sees these two objects of literary analysis as irreconcilable. Lamenting that many critics have privileged history over literature, Jarvis claims that “the best reason to read novels is because they are aesthetic gems to be held up for our pleasure and interpretation” (161). Decisively setting the study of social and political context aside, she declares that “interpretation allows us to see a lapidary object for what it is: something beautiful, but something carefully made, as well” (163). Although Jarvis invokes proponents of “surface reading” such as Sharon Marcus and Stephen Best to justify her methodology (155), she has no interest in any pains those critics may have taken to produce new modes of political reading. Her book thus...

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