The belief that the art of the novel can be discussed and evaluated only after its narrative techniques or ‘‘devices’’ have been identified and enumerated launches novel theory into an Adamic ecstasy of naming. The first thing to notice about the essays in this section is how many terms they coin, how the novel’s particular literary form seems to require a new literary-critical vocabulary. The aesthetics of the novel have been missed, it seems, not because the novel isn't an aesthetic form, but because critical language derived from other literary genres can't register the novel's distinguishing formal features.

Actually I don't get the meaning of the sentence in bold clearly and especially the meaning of "critical language". This is from the book The Novel: An Anthology of Criticism and Theory 1900-2000.

Does it mean: The studies that are done in other literary genre can't consider formal features of novel as aesthetic form? Correct me if I am wrong.


Here "critical language" refers to the analytical language used in critical theory. "Register" means "express" or "make apparent".

What Dorothy Hale (the author, a scholar of the theory of the novel) is saying here is basically that critical theory based on other genres does not sufficiently analyze the aesthetics of the novel.

  • 2
    +1 but I think you mean "does not" in your last line. – StoneyB on hiatus Dec 25 '18 at 19:06

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