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Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel


Part of Cambridge Studies in Twenty-First-Century Literature and Culture

  • Date Published: July 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108498708

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About the Authors
  • This book examines the experience of time functions in a specific set of British novels to reveal the persistence of the utopian imagination in the twenty-first century. Through close textual analysis, Edwards develops a new strategy of reading such anticipatory 'fictions of the not yet', including novels by Hari Kunzru, Maggie Gee, David Mitchell, Ali Smith, Jim Crace, Joanna Kavenna, Grace McCleen, Jon McGregor, and Claire Fuller. Read in the context of the philosophical category of non-contemporaneity, these novels reveal a significant new direction in twenty-first-century fiction. Their formal inventiveness and suggestively non-mimetic encounters with otherwise realist narrative representations of contemporary experience open up a realm of utopian possibility that shines through in moments of temporal alterity: glimpses of the future, redeemed strands of past hopes, and alternative social worlds already alive in the present.

    • Contributes to an expanding field of utopian literary studies by offering an interrogation of the role of utopia in the twenty-first century
    • Presents a new way of reading temporality in twenty-first-century fiction through the concept of non-contemporaneity
    • Examines literary representations of time in a way that moves beyond older paradigms such as postmodernism, historiographic metafiction and nostalgia
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel is an ambitious, engaging and original book. Edwards shows how the twenty-first century is experiencing a Renaissance of experimentalism that reconsiders time and temporal experience in imaginative fictions. This book will definitely make a mark, reinvigorating the utopian philosophy of Ernst Bloch and providing a persuasive way of reading the evident preoccupation with the temporal and the possibility of recovering political hope in dark times that is evident across so much contemporary writing.' Patricia Waugh, Durham University

    'Combining wide-ranging theoretical sophistication with acute analyses of particular fictional texts, Caroline Edwards's book should be of great interest not only to those with a special concern with the current British novel but also to everyone who wishes to understand how the utopian imagination can operate in an era when so many seem to have lost hope. Perhaps no one in the UK today is doing more than Edwards to demonstrate the permanent indispensability of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch.' Carl Freedman, William A. Read Professor of English Literature, Louisiana State University

    'Edwards offers a convincing analysis of how contemporary British Fiction has drawn upon the resources of [science fiction] and other non-mimetic devices in order to prise open the utopian potentials within the present moment … an essential book for [science fiction] readers …' Paul March Russel, Foundation

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2019
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108498708
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: daily into the blue
    2. Reading fictions of the not yet
    3. Death: moments of possibility
    4. Transmigration: networking utopian times
    5. Apocalypse: co-evolutionary futures
    6. Epilogue: world as home.

  • Author

    Caroline Edwards, Birkbeck College, University of London
    Caroline Edwards is Senior Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary Literature at Birkbeck, University of London. Her work on living writers has led to two co-edited books: China Miéville: Critical Essays (2015) and Maggie Gee: Critical Essays (2015). Caroline has published in a number of journals, including Telos, Modern Fiction Studies, Textual Practice, ASAP/Journal, Contemporary Literature, Subjectivity, Times Higher Education and New Statesman. Caroline is a founding member of the British Association for Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) and a director of the scholarly publisher Open Library of Humanities.

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