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Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: July 2019
  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online ISBN: 9781108595568

Book description

This book examines the experience of time functions in a specific set of British novels to reveal the persistence of the utopian imagination in the twenty-first century. Through close textual analysis, Edwards develops a new strategy of reading such anticipatory 'fictions of the not yet', including novels by Hari Kunzru, Maggie Gee, David Mitchell, Ali Smith, Jim Crace, Joanna Kavenna, Grace McCleen, Jon McGregor, and Claire Fuller. Read in the context of the philosophical category of non-contemporaneity, these novels reveal a significant new direction in twenty-first-century fiction. Their formal inventiveness and suggestively non-mimetic encounters with otherwise realist narrative representations of contemporary experience open up a realm of utopian possibility that shines through in moments of temporal alterity: glimpses of the future, redeemed strands of past hopes, and alternative social worlds already alive in the present.


'Utopia and the Contemporary British Novel is an ambitious, engaging and original book. Edwards shows how the twenty-first century is experiencing a Renaissance of experimentalism that reconsiders time and temporal experience in imaginative fictions. This book will definitely make a mark, reinvigorating the utopian philosophy of Ernst Bloch and providing a persuasive way of reading the evident preoccupation with the temporal and the possibility of recovering political hope in dark times that is evident across so much contemporary writing.'

Patricia Waugh - Durham University

'Combining wide-ranging theoretical sophistication with acute analyses of particular fictional texts, Caroline Edwards’s book should be of great interest not only to those with a special concern with the current British novel but also to everyone who wishes to understand how the utopian imagination can operate in an era when so many seem to have lost hope. Perhaps no one in the UK today is doing more than Edwards to demonstrate the permanent indispensability of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch.'

Carl Freedman - William A. Read Professor of English Literature, Louisiana State University


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