The paper aims to analyze the representation of space in a considerable part of modern fiction. It demonstrates the gradual emergence of a new mode of fiction, which focuses upon the existential space in its geographical and historical concreteness, and assumes the representation of space to be one of the most significant literary goals. This mode of fiction, especially palpable in contemporary literature, is labeled "the novel of place" — or, in broader terms, "topophilic" prose. As a starting point, the paper analyzes several contemporary Hebrew novels, which are characterized by this type of representation, and in which the role of the plot becomes rather subsidiary. The second section addresses the theoretical significance of this problem, as well as the problem of genres in general, for contemporary research in comparative literature. The third and the fourth sections turn to the genealogy of "topophilic fiction" as a genre and compare it to the so-called "travel literature." The history of these genres, however, turns out to be entirely different. Whereas travel literature is one of the oldest literary modes, "topophilic fiction" emerges only in the mid-nineteenth century. Although the paper traces its earlier roots, it also shows that a very significant change in the very "episteme" of the literary perception and representation of space was necessary, in order to allow for the emergence of this new genre. In the fifth section, this analysis is followed by a comparison between the abstract "post-modern" fiction of the 1960s and 1970s, and the hyper-concrete "novel of place," which emerges in the wake of post-modernism. Drawing upon the examples discussed in the previous sections, the sixth section summarizes several major characteristics of "the novel of place" and addresses a few central problems associated with its study. Finally, the seventh section turns to concordant developments in literary theory, the philosophy of space and contemporary "new" cultural geography, and contrasts the essentialist approach to space, characteristic of existentialism, to the non-essentialist theories of space as a cultural construction. It concludes that these assumed "philosophies of space" is another theme that must be addressed by an in-depth analysis of "topophilic fiction."
|Translated title of the contribution||Topophilia: Cultural Geography as a Genre of Contemporary Fiction|
|Journal||International Journal of Cultural Research|
|State||Published - 2011|