This volume is intended as a general introduction to the critical analysis of novels. One of its main aims is to help the reader to see that an analytical approach to the novel is not an end in itself, but can crucially deepen our understanding of the text and greatly intensify our reading experience. True, the claim is frequently made that every good literary text can only gain from thorough analysis – yet it seems to me that this is nevertheless
experienced all too rarely. And that might have something to do with the fact that readers too seldom grasp the purpose of identifying this or that narrative technique. Students perform such analysis because it is required
for seminar presentations, essays, and exams: what it’s actually good for all too often remains obscure. So they just go through the motions – disposing of it as a matter of form, because it is required. But where the meaning of a procedure is not grasped, any new acquisition of knowledge or flash of insight can only occur by accident. So students run into a vicious circle, not knowing why they’re doing what they’re doing, and for that very reason unlikely ever to find out why.
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