Chorus and Agon in the political novel: Staging left-wing arguments in H.G. Wells, Iris Murdoch and Doris Lessing

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The novel of explicit political commitment is often seen as simplistic and formally naïve by left-leaning critics, who prefer the Jamesonian political unconscious. Yet political novels stage left-wing arguments in artful ways that not only situate arguments against counter arguments, but also test their efficacy in the embodied social lifeworld of the text. This essay uses Chantal Mouffe’s work on agonism to frame readings of H. G. Wells’s Kipps, Iris Murdoch’s Under the Net, and Doris Lessing’s A Proper Marriage. It shows how monological left-wing chorus characters bring counter-hegemonic ideas into the texts, testing the limits of liberal discussion novels.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)247-271
Number of pages15
JournalMFS: Modern Fiction Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2021

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