Monday, November 17, 2008

Novels of Ideas

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by "novels of ideas". They are novels for which the ideas play an important and integral part in the work as a whole. My personal favorites included the following examples that may help as I have found them worth reading and rereading: The Brothers Karamazov, The Magic Mountain, Death in Venice, The Plague, Auto da Fe, Atlas Shrugged, Zorba the Greek and The Man Without Qualities. Each of these has at its core the artistic display of ideas, both explicitly and implicitly. In each characters represent ideas and in some there are sections in which the ideas are directly displayed in essays, letters or other direct comments by the author.

I have most recently been reading The Schopenhauer Cure by Irvin D. Yalom that, at least in part, is a novel of ideas. In this case, primarily the ideas of the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who is presented both through one of the characters and through biographical essays interspersed throughout the novel. This is a method that I have not encountered before in this type of novel, but recently experienced in reading the historical novel, Birds Without Wings. More on this subject will be added to this thread.....

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