• James Acheson
  • Sarah C. E. Ross


An increasingly complex contemporary world has given rise to increasingly complex contemporary novels — novels that students in schools, colleges, polytechnics and universities around the world often find daunting. The novels themselves, as well as the reviewers, scholars and others who discuss them, frequently invoke views of the world, ideologies and theories that can baffle; for those who write about contemporary fiction are not always clear what they mean by key terms like ‘realism’, ‘postcolonialism’, ‘feminism’ and ‘postmodernism’. The Contemporary British Novel Since 1980 seeks to define (or identify the problems involved in defining) these terms not just for students, but for teachers and interested members of the reading public; and it reveals the extent to which the practice of twenty-two leading British novelists embodies, exemplifies, modifies or rejects the theories that these terms represent. In recognition of the fact that novels often embody combinations of realism, postcolonialism, feminism and postmodernism, and include other ‘-isms’ as well, the collection is divided into four parts, each devoted to one of the four major ‘-isms’, yet each admitting other ‘-isms’ into the discussion of the novelists concerned.1


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  1. 1.
    Basic definitions and discussion of each of the ‘-isms’ covered in this volume can be found in M. H. Abrams, A Glossary of Literary Terms, 7th edn (Boston: Heinle & Heinle, 1999).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel (1957; rpt. Harmonds worth: Penguin, 1968), p. 10.Google Scholar
  3. Damian Grant, Realism in Literature (London: Methuen, 1970).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    For a helpful introduction to French realism/naturalism, see Lilian Furst and Peter Skrine, Naturalism (London: Methuen, 1971).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    Two excellent introductions to postcolonialism are Bart Moore-Gilbert, Gareth Stanton and Willy Maley, eds, Postcolonial Criticism (London: Longman, 1997)Google Scholar
  6. Bart Moore-Gilbert, Postcolonial Theory: Contexts, Practices, Politics (London: Verso, 1997).Google Scholar
  7. 5.
    Aijaz Ahmad, ‘The Politics of Literary Postcoloniality’, Race and Class, 36, 3 (1995), 1–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 7.
    For an introduction to French feminist theory, see Toril Moi, Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (London and New York: Routledge, 1985).Google Scholar
  9. 8.
    Excellent introductions to feminist literary criticism include Feminist Literary Criticism, ed. Mary Eagleton (London: Longman, 1991)Google Scholar
  10. 9.
    Two very helpful introductions to postmodernism are Linda Hutcheon’s The Politics of Postmodernism (London and New York: Routledge, 1989)Google Scholar
  11. Brian McHale’s Postmodernist Fiction (London: Methuen, 1987).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© James Acheson and Sarah C. E. Ross 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Acheson
  • Sarah C. E. Ross

There are no affiliations available

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