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All my stories are webs of style and none seems at first blush to contain much kinetic matter. For me style is matter. Vladimir Nabokov
A lot of the people who read a bestselling novel, for example, do not read much other fiction. By contrast, the audience for an obscure novel is largely composed of people who read a lot. That means the least popular books are judged by people who have the highest standards, while the most popular are judged by people who literally do not know any better. An American who read just one book this year was disproportionately likely to have read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. He almost certainly liked it. The Economist
But for brilliant writer J G Ballard this suburban sprawl is as provocative in its way as Tahiti was for Gauguin or Dublin for James Joyce. This, believe it or not, is a land of dreams. Profile: J G Ballard, BBC 2003
‘Disquieting diorama of pain and mutilation. Strange sexual wounds, imaginary Vietnam atrocities …’ ibid. Atrocity Exhibition
In his next novel Crash, Ballard followed this route to a shocking destination. A work which contrived the disturbing pile-up between sexual arousal and crumpled bodywork. ibid.
‘Throwing a literary bomb into a rather smug you know cafeteria.’ ibid. Ballard
We don’t read novels to have an experience like life. Heck, we’re living lives, complete with all the incompleteness. We turn to fiction to have an author assure us that it means something. Orson Scott Card
You don’t read Gatsby, I said, to learn whether adultery is good or bad but to learn about how complicated issues such as adultery and fidelity and marriage are. A great novel heightens your senses and sensitivity to the complexities of life and of individuals, and prevents you from the self-righteousness that sees morality in fixed formulas about good and evil. Azar Nafisi, Reading Lolita in Tehran
A good novel tells us the truth about its hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author. G K Chesterton, Heretics
She should have done science, not spent all her time with her head in novels. Novels gave you a completely false idea about life, they told lies and they implied there were endings when in reality there were no endings, everything just went on and on and on. Kate Atkinson, Case Histories
I didn’t think you’d like that sort of thing. I read a bit of one of them once. God, I couldn’t finish it – the language! Unbelievable. It’s a bit much for me, Father – feck this and feck that. Ya big bastard. Oh dreadful language. Ya big hairy arse, you big fecker. Fierce stuff. And of course the F word, Father … Bastard this and bastard that. You can’t move for the bastards in her novels. It’s wall to wall bastards. Father Ted: And God Created Woman s1e5, Mrs Doyle to Ted
Murder’s the darkest and most despicable crime of all. And yet we're attracted to it. Grisly crimes like these would appal us if we encountered them in real life. But something happens when they’re turned into stories and safely placed between the covers of a book. A Very British Murder with Lucy Worsley I: The New Taste for Blood, BBC 2013
The romantic novel – this is literature that was as revolutionary as a political manifesto. Lucy Worsley, A Very British Romance, BBC 2015
Samuel Richardson was the fairy godfather of British romance. ibid.
The cult of sensibility ... They do buy love only when it’s balanced with economic sense. ibid.
Jane Austen created the imaginary world in which she had all the choice and control that she lacked in the real world. ibid.
I think there’s much more to this enigmatic and elusive novelist than meets the eye. Agatha Christie: Lucy Worsley on the Mystery Queen II
The famous detective novelist vanished, maybe even murdered or kidnapped … The perfect tabloid story. ibid.
Pulp Fiction: pulp/pelp/n 1. A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2. A magazine or book containing lurid subject matter and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper. American Heritage Dictionary, New College Edition. Pulp Fiction 1994 ***** starring Uma Thurman & John Travolta & Samuel L Jackson & Harvey Keitel & Tim Roth & Amanda Plummer & Maria de Medeiros & Ving Rhames & Eric Stoltz & Rosanna Arquette & Bruce Willis & Christopher Walken et al, director Quentin Tarantino
At present, nothing is talked of, nothing admired, but what I cannot help calling a very insipid and tedious performance: it is a kind of novel called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy; the great humour of which consists in the whole narration always going backwards. Horace Walpole, 1760
It is not the first duty of the novelist to provide blueprints for insurrection, or uplifting tales of successful resistance for the benefit of the opposition. The naming of what is there is what is important. Ian McEwan
This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force. Dorothy Parker
I think Fielding is unquestionably the central novelist of the eighteenth century. Richardson is a horrible excrescence in my view: pious and lecherous. Martin Amis
I’m a bit of a grinder. Novels are very long, and long novels are very, very long. It’s just a hell of a lot of man-hours. I tend to just go in there, and if it comes, it comes. A morning when I write not a single word doesn’t worry me too much. If I come up against a brick wall, I’ll just go and play snooker or something or sleep on it, and my subconscious will fix it for me. Usually, it’s a journey without maps but a journey with a destination, so I know how it’s going to begin and I know how it’s going to end, but I don’t know how I’m going to get from one to the other. That, really, is the struggle of the novel. Martin Amis, 1995
It’s 1749. London is in the grip of addiction. Gin. It’s dirt cheap. And it’s turning the capital into a nest of vice and destruction. Henry Hitchings, Birth of the British Novel, BBC 2011
Tom Jones is one of the greatest novels of all time ... The novel was a new and emerging art form. Fielding saw in the novel the potential to challenge and renovate everything that was wrong with society. And all under the guise of entertainment ... It was a dangerous and subversive enterprise. Fielding was one of a handful of trailblazers using the novel to challenge the norms of British society. In just eighty years writers including Daniel Defoe, Jonathan Swift, Laurence Sterne and Fanny Burney would lay down the basic templates for the novel. ibid.
The novel as we know it emerged in Britain in the early eighteenth century. The nation at that time was in the flush of economic prosperity. ibid.
New laws surrounding censorship and copyright gave authors more freedom and commercial opportunity than before. ibid.
What’s so brilliant and original about Defoe is the way he pares prose back to its bare essentials. There is nothing florid here. No poetry. ibid.
Moll Flanders, published in 1732, is the tale of a harlot on the make. Her motto: with money in the pocket one is at home anywhere. She dies a rich woman. ibid.
I love how all the contradictions inherent in Swift’s personality are expressed in Gulliver’s Travels. ibid.
Richardson is a printer before he becomes a novelist ... Richardson became a celebrity, surrounded by cultivated ladies. ibid.
Clarissa, published in 1748, charts the pursuit, rape and ultimate death of its heroine. ibid.
This was Henry Fielding, justice of the peace, founder of the Bow Street Runners, a man devoted to social reform. He also recognised the role of art and entertainment ... He turned to the novel ... His friend and mentor the painter William Hogarth. ibid.
Tom may be a foundling but he is more generous and humane than the high-born characters who surround him. ibid.
I find Tristram Shandy pretty much impossible to describe. On the surface it’s about a group of eccentric characters who live at Shandy Hall. It’s also a carnivalesque philosophical romp stuffed with references to its own creation. The word shandy was in Stern’s time Yorkshire slang for a crack-brained individual ... This is a landmark book ... He’s not even born till the fourth of his nine volumes ... It’s still the ultimate experimental British novel. ibid.
The inventor of the Gothic novel is Robert Walpole. ibid.