Join us for a Chats in the Stacks book talk with Daniel R. Schwarz to hear about his recently published book, Reading the European Novel to 1900 (Wiley-Blackwell, Oct. 2014). After teaching undergraduates and graduate students at Cornell for more than 46 years, Schwarz has an in-depth understanding of how and why the masterworks he has chosen are meaningful and important to our lives. His credo, for which he is known, is “Always the text; always historicize.”


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His book examines the history and evolution of the European novel to 1900. He defines each author’s aesthetic, cultural, political, and historical significance. He discusses in detail frequently read and taught masterworks: Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Anna Karenina, Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Balzac’s Pere Goriot, Stendhal’s The Charterhouse of Parma and The Red and the Black, and Zola’s Germinal.

Recurring themes in the book are the role of history, the transformation of agrarian life due to machinery, the rise of capitalism, the evolution of the modern city, and the creation of a class of underemployed workers. Schwarz stresses the aesthetic choices authors make, shaped by political, social and historical issues and why and how readers respond.

Daniel R. Schwarz is Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature and Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow at Cornell University, where he has taught since 1968. He is regarded as among the world’s leading critic-scholars of the form, history, and meaning of the novel. He has written sixteen books covering a wide variety of subjects. He is an engaging lecturer and his talks are lively!!

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.