Corbin Hiday Responds to Megan Ward

Like Caroline’s discussion of “portability,” I am interested in the notion regarding “how far—historically and disciplinarily—fictional form can travel.” Again, these observations and rearticulations of Taylor’s central aims and goals are really useful to imagine the novel across history and discipline, beyond a rehashing of staid and stale debates: “The Victorian novel does this, and the modernist novel does that.” I think it’s important that you draw our attention to the imagination of “limits,” as I think, in addition to historicity and disciplinarily, Taylor puts pressure on the notion of limits through grappling with scale. Once we move from the London fog, or any other specific “geographic designations,” we are forced to grapple with a larger scale: “Global climate change provides the limit of such externalities, the point at which we are forced to reorient our modes of dwelling to the planet as a whole, without relying on yet another unnamed dumping ground, another untapped well, another undertainted sky. Air pollution remains a persistent problem” (218). The impulse to both interrogate and deploy scale and limit, I think helps us understand what you refer to as “our own smallness” in the shift from the local to the global, individual to species. I think the great strength of Taylor’s book is his demonstration of how the novel helps us think through these issues, what Caroline refers to as a “useful abstraction.” Following your observation, this is especially well-articulated and convincing in Taylor’s discussion of Our Mutual Friend, marking a genre shift from a form “predicated on individuation” to something that instead resembles a “collective” (66).

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