In The Theory of the Novel , Georg Lukács famously described the poetics of modern prose fiction as “transcendental homelessness” (Lukács 41). While never explicitly cited, this descriptor resonates strongly in Paul Buchholz's engaging monograph Private Anarchy, which focuses on novels that introduce “outsiders” who cannot feel at home in the world they inhabit. Buchholz analyzes a group of twentieth-century pieces of prose fiction in terms of alienation, solitude, and their abstract longing for “impossible community.” For both Lukács and Buchholz, the concept of alienation is limited not only to a lost relation to an estranged physis but also to what Lukács calls second nature—all the features of community that seem to define the human habitat, its traditions, rituals, social orders, and manners. Succumbing to the task of being autonomous beings, modern subjects sense the oppressive force of these cultural environments. Novels...

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