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Into the Future

David Trotter: The Novel, 22 March 2007

The Novel: Vol. I: History, Geography and Culture 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 916 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04947 5
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The Novel: Vol. II: Forms and Themes 
edited by Franco Moretti.
Princeton, 950 pp., £65, June 2006, 0 691 04948 3
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... until some time between the 14th and 16th centuries, and unknown in Europe before the 18th. Franco Moretti, the editor of this vast two-volume anthology of essays, itself a redaction of an original five-volume work published in Italian under the title Il Romanzo, has his eye on something other than an island story. The novel, he declares, in ...


George Steiner, 23 May 1996

The Modern Epic: The World System from Goethe to García Márquez 
by Franco Moretti, translated by Quentin Hoare.
Verso, 250 pp., £44, March 1996, 1 85984 934 2
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... those between, say, Tolstoy and Homer or Mann and Goethe. It is against this implicit model that Franco Moretti sets out his merry bricolage (a favourite word). The pivotal works in literary modernity, from Goethe’s Faust II to García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude are ‘epics’ of a distinctive kind and lineage. They are ...

By the Width of a Street

Christopher Prendergast: Literary geography, 29 October 1998

An Atlas of the European Novel 1800-1900 
by Franco Moretti.
Verso, 206 pp., £16, August 1998, 1 85984 883 4
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... of An Atlas of the European Novel, in a discussion of images of London in the 19th-century novel, Franco Moretti throws in a parenthetical aside on the whereabouts of his publisher (‘in a rather bleak part of Soho’). It’s a sort of joke, consistent with the laidback tone that Moretti seems able to combine ...

The paper is white

Daniel Soar: Elif Batuman at College, 14 December 2017

The Idiot 
by Elif Batuman.
Cape, 425 pp., £16.99, June 2017, 978 1 910702 69 7
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... anthologies for 2004 and 2005; about the writings of the literary historian and theoretician Franco Moretti and the quantitative research activities of his hive of graduate student assistants. The essay on Moretti – a review of his Graphs, Maps, Trees, an expanded version of three essays for New Left ...

Making a Break

Terry Eagleton: Fredric Jameson’s Futures, 9 March 2006

Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions 
by Fredric Jameson.
Verso, 431 pp., £20, September 2005, 1 84467 033 3
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... Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah, which he describes as one of his favourite books, and which Franco Moretti has more aptly called ‘perhaps the biggest piece of trash in universal literature’. We need, Jameson claims in a striking comment, ‘to develop an anxiety about losing the future which is analogous to Orwell’s anxiety about the loss of ...

At the Opium Factory

David Simpson: Amitav Ghosh, 22 October 2009

Sea of Poppies 
by Amitav Ghosh.
Murray, 544 pp., £7.99, April 2009, 978 0 7195 6897 8
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... language (Spanish) and translated into another, English, three years after its first appearance. Franco Moretti has speculated that this novel and others like it speak to the world system from the periphery in ways that would be impossible if they were set in Europe or North America: they hold out the possibility of re-enchantment in our disenchanted ...

‘I am not dead’

Christopher Prendergast: H.C. Andersen, 8 March 2001

Hans Christian Andersen: The Life of a Storyteller 
by Jackie Wullschlager.
Allen Lane, 506 pp., £20, November 2000, 0 7139 9325 1
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... context. In his reflections on the fate of the European Bildungsroman in the 19th century, Franco Moretti has shown that, as social images of ‘maturation’ were increasingly infected by Gradgrindery and other forms of machine mentality, the virtues of ‘immaturity’ were correspondingly celebrated – Julien Sorel and Fabrice del Dongo are ...


Christopher Tayler: The Fabulous Elif Batuman, 17 February 2011

The Possessed: Adventures with Russian Books and the People Who Read Them 
by Elif Batuman.
Granta, 296 pp., £16.99, April 2011, 978 1 84708 313 5
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... Jersey by Turkish parents, Batuman draws strength from Foucault and Roman Jakobson, studied with Franco Moretti and has a blog on which she uses words like ‘w00t!!’. Still, both the Russians and the people who read Russian books in her autobiographical essays behave in accordance with long-standing traditions. Professors exhibit mild intellectual ...


Geoffrey Hawthorn, 3 December 1992

English Questions 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 370 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 375 9
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A Zone of Engagement 
by Perry Anderson.
Verso, 384 pp., £39.95, May 1992, 0 86091 377 5
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... of the international labour movement, for struggles’, he then thought, ‘still pending’. When Franco Moretti, to whom he now dedicates A Zone of Engagement, wrote back from Italy, then in ferment, to say that the essay was in fact ‘a farewell in fitting style to the revolutionary Marxist tradition’, it was not a verdict, Anderson now ...

If on a winter’s night a cyclone

Thomas Jones: ‘The Great Derangement’, 18 May 2017

The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable 
by Amitav Ghosh.
Chicago, 176 pp., £15.50, September 2016, 978 0 226 32303 9
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... complacency and confidence of the emergent bourgeois order’ (Ghosh acknowledges a debt to Franco Moretti), the ‘traces and portents’ of upheaval are invisible, however hard writers and their characters may have tried, wittingly or not, to conceal them. The Napoleonic Wars and transatlantic slave trade haunt Mansfield Park; the Bennet sisters ...

Prussian Blues

Fredric Jameson, 17 October 1996

Ein weites Feld 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 784 pp., DM 49.80, August 1995, 3 88243 366 3
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... and with the state in its various avatars. For Fontane was also arrested as a spy during the Franco-Prussian War (and was saved, perhaps, although the case is unclear, by his archenemy Bismarck); nor is it improbable that he was kept under surveillance during the period immediately preceding and following the abortive revolution of 1848, at which point ...

An Invertebrate Left

Perry Anderson, 12 March 2009

... to compare with Godard in France or Fassbinder in Germany; later on, only the weak brew of Nanni Moretti. The result was a gap so large between educated and popular sensibilities that the country was left more or less defenceless against the cultural counter-revolution of Berlusconi’s television empire, saturating the popular imaginary with a tidal wave of ...

The Force of the Anomaly

Perry Anderson: Carlo Ginzburg, 26 April 2012

Threads and Traces: True False Fictive 
by Carlo Ginzburg, translated by Anne Tedeschi and John Tedeschi.
California, 328 pp., £20.95, January 2012, 978 0 520 25961 4
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... work? Here the key term is the anomaly. An anecdote can serve as illustration. One day Franco Moretti and Carlo Ginzburg went to the Metropolitan Museum in New York together. Coming upon Vermeer’s A Maid Asleep, depicting a servant-girl drowsing at a table laden with fruit, a wine-glass lying on its side, a painting of Cupid on the wall ...

On Sebastiano Timpanaro

Perry Anderson, 10 May 2001

... chose not to come back to the Scuola Normale after the war. Luca Cavalli-Sforza, Carlo Cipolla, Franco Modigliani and Giovanni Sartori took chairs in America. In the next levy, Carlo Ginzburg, Franco Moretti, Giovanni Arrighi all gave up posts at home, more or less in despair, to make their way across the ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World, 2 August 2018

... part of the reason for the restricted circulation of A Dance. It is a rule of cultural geography, Franco Moretti wrote in Distant Reading, that ‘relatively speaking, comedies do not travel well.’ He was concerned with the cinema, but the two explanations he gave apply a fortiori to literature. One was what he termed the inertia of language: jokes are ...

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