Inventions of a Present

Inventions of a Present:The Novel in its Crisis of Globalization

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The giant of literary theory analyzes the novel: Conrad, James, Atwood, Oe, Mailer, Grass, Grossman, Garcia Márquez, Gibson, Knausgaard and more

A novel is an act, an intervention, which, most often, the naïve reader takes as a representation. The novel intervenes to modify or correct our conventional notions of a situation and, in the best and most intense cases, to propose a wholly new idea of what constitutes an event or of the very experience of living. The most interesting contemporary novels are those which try—and sometimes manage—to awaken our sense of a collectivity behind individual experience, revealing a relationship between the isolated subjectivity and a class or community. But even if this happens (which is rare), one must go on to find traces of collective praxis hidden away within the awakened feeling of inter-connection. And since it is in the sense of the nation and nationality that collectivity is most often expressed, there is an urgent need to disengage the possibilities of genuine action within these areas.

This sweeping collection of essays ranges from the elusive politics of North American literature to the sometimes frozen narrative experiences of the eastern countries and the Soviet Union and beyond. This is a voyage traversing the globe, discovering a common kinship between each literary destination in late capitalism itself.


  • Fredric Jameson is America's leading Marxist critic. A prodigiously energetic thinker whose writings sweep majestically from Sophocles to science fiction.

    Terry Eagleton
  • Exploding like so many magnesium flares in the night sky, Fredric Jameson’s writings have lit up the shrouded landscape of the postmodern.

    Perry Anderson
  • Jameson has long been the most alluring American literary theorist, the only one to match the French in style and depth.

    Angela WoodwardLos Angeles Review of Books