The introduction to Novel 47.2: Jacques Rancière and the Novel considers some of the implications of Jacques Rancière's writings on literature and politics for the novel. It addresses this question with reference to Rancière's analysis of the literary “regime” (in The Politics of Literature), his work on pedagogy and aesthetics, and the literature of novel theory in the twentieth century, including the work of Georg Lukács and Mikhail Bakhtin. Rancière's insistence upon the “democratic” quality of the novel form presents a quandary for many readers, due to his reluctance to speak in evaluative or normative terms about that quality. The claim put forward here, however, is that his most significant contribution to novel theory is to be found in this refusal of the “explicative system,” a refusal that betokens the importance of the logic of the novel to his own thinking. I offer a summary of Rancière's article “The Thread of the Novel” in this context and situate the other articles in this issue (by Elaine Freedgood, Emily Steinlight, Raji Vallury, Sarah Winter, and Davide Panagia) in relation to the same quandary.

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