Four Strategies for Reading
This chapter presents an exposition of four principles for reading democratic imaginations. First, contemporary with the genesis of the novel, the philosophical Inquiry, open to different logics, is a model for democratic narrative, made in and through narrative form and plot. Second, an experimental poetics of form, as the pressures of Inquiry create generic innovation and question received forms. Third, a concern with subjects at the margins generates a hypersensitive concern with spaces because spatial and social deprivation go together. The quintessential deficit subject is here. Finally, the invariable presence of art objects and aesthetic work in the novel raises questions of representation that have a political valence. The aesthetic has an interrogative force because social critique is immanent in it. The aesthetic questioning raised by the doll’s dressmaker’s presence in Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend ends the chapter.
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