Katarzyna BartoszyńskaNov 26, 2021
Estranging the Novel
Poland, Ireland, and Theories of World Literature
Johns Hopkins University Press 2021
Katarzyna (Kasia) Bartoszyńska is an assistant professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies at Ithaca College. Her research and teaching focuses on the novel form and the theories connected to it, combining a formalist investigation of textual mechanics with an interest in studies of gender, sexuality, race, and world literature. Prof. Bartoszyńska is also active in Polish-English translation. She has translated several texts by Zygmunt Bauman, including Sketches in the Theory of Culture (Polity 2018), Of God and Man (Polity 2015), and Culture and Art (2021) and is currently completing a translation of a book about Bauman's work by Dariusz Brzeziński.
In this interview, she discusses her new book Estranging the Novel: Poland, Ireland and Theories of World Literature (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021), a comparative study of two national literatures that also makes a serious intervention into the history of the novel as a literary form.
Estranging the Novel: Poland, Ireland, and Theories of World Literature (Johns Hopkins UP, 2021) offers a new way of thinking about the development of the novel as a genre. The work pushes against the standard narrative of the novel's rise on two fronts, arguing that the focus on Anglo-French fiction, on the one hand, and realism, on the other, gives us an overly narrow sense of the novel's potential, and skews our readings of fiction from "other" parts of the world. Bartoszyńska uses three close readings of pairs of books from Poland and Ireland, spanning the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries, to demonstrate how mainstream theories of the novel fail to engage their most innovative features, because they do not conform to emerging conventions of realist fiction. Examining the features of these works that have been seen as deviations from the novel's teleology, such as satire, interlaced tales, or the use of the supernatural, she presents them as efforts to theorize the potential of the form and investigates the novel's world-building powers.
Aidan Beatty is a historian at the Honors College of the University of Pittsburgh