Reciprocities in the Nonfiction Novel

John Russell
Foreword by Neil D. Isaacs

Distinguishing true nonfiction novels from "new journalism"

Reviews

"Whereas previous studies have applied general techniques of literary criticism to prose works, Reciprocities creates a new characterization of exactly what a 'nonfiction novel' is."
—Jerome Klinkowitz, author of Literary Disruptions

"Reciprocities is an excellent contribution to the study of the novel and to non-fiction. More than that, it offers wise commentary on the conditions under which writing about real-life can become art."
—Steven Harvey, author of Bound for Shady Grove


"The borderline between fictional and non-fictional writing is one of the marches of literary criticism. No one provides a finer survey of the field—from Dinesen to the travel books of Robert Byron—than Russell. At the same time he develops with the greatest sensitivity a poetic for the non-fictional novel turning on humility before and sympathy with the events and persons described."
—Alvin Kernan, Senior Advisor in the Humanities, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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Description
Nonfiction novels have usually been associated with the "new journalism" writers of the 1960s such as Tom Wolfe, Norman Mailer, and Truman Capote. Yet this form has long commanded a key position in the literary canon, as John Russell now reveals.

Russell identifies eleven major works not usually thought of as nonfiction novels, such as Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa and E. E. Cummings's The Enormous Room, to create a new definition of the genre. He shows that journalistic writing is characterized by a reporter's proprietary stance, which undermines reciprocity with subjects, while true nonfiction novels feature greater reciprocity and also employ such techniques as circular narrative and bricolage.Reciprocities in the Nonfiction Novel contributes to ongoing explorations of literary forms and offers wise commentary on how writing about real life can become art.

Page count: 256 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9

 



Hardcover
List price: $46.95
978-0-8203-2202-5
08/31/2000

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John Russell is professor emeritus of English at the University of Maryland. He is the author of several books, including Style in Modern British Fiction and Henry Green: Nine Novels and an Unpacked Bag.