Cover image for The social impact of the novel : a reference guide
The social impact of the novel : a reference guide
Johnson, Claudia Durst, 1938-
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 2002.
Physical Description:
xvi, 393 pages ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN3344 .J64 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order



The novel has proven to be the premier literary form in the exploration of social ideas and protest. This reference guide is unique in providing concise information on 200 landmark novels and their impacts on society throughout history and around the world. The social issues of geographically organized countries are first plotted on a timeline. Each country's novels are then presented chronologically through lucid essays relating the works to their historical contexts and tracing their impact since publication. With an extensive section covering the rich historical tradition of the novel in North America, illuminating essays show how works such as The Grapes of Wrath , Uncle Tom's Cabin , and The Jungle protested specific conditions and evoked tangible changes in American policies and laws.

This volume surveys works written in or translated into English from 30 different countries throughout the world, including Senegal's So Long a Letter , Australia's coonardo , and the Chinese novel waves , which attacked Communism and its cultural revolution. Readers will discover fresh insights into familiar European works, such as the plight of poor middle-class women in Jane Eyre , and the exposure of socialist threat to individualism in Animal Farm and A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich . Teachers using literature for interdisciplinary studies will find this guide helpful in identifying and researching essential works of world literature. Organization of information into four indexes, all keyed to entry numbers, facilitate easy access to specific titles, authors, geography, and issues. This guide can be used to research the development of both contemporary and historical social concerns in specific areas or to compare and contrast the treatment of issues such as feminism in the literature of different cultures. Further suggested readings are provided for each novel, along with a general appendix, Additional Protest Novels to Explore.

Author Notes

CLAUDIA DURST JOHNSON, former chairperson of English at the University of Alabama, is currently a freelance scholar and writer in Berkeley, California. She is the author of books on American history and literature, as well as theater history. She is also series editor for Greenwood Press's Exploring Social Issues through Literature Series and the Literature in Context Series, for which she has authored several volumes including Understanding To Kill A Mockinggird and Understanding The Grapes of Wrath .

VERNON JOHNSON, a graduate of Vanderbilt University, has wide experience as author, theater director, and professor of world literature. He is co-author of Understanding The Crucible . He now resides in Berkeley, California where he continues to write and teach.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

This new reference guide surveys 200 landmark novels that have made a notable impact on society or, more specifically, "the way individuals think and society acts." The novels are examined from a social and historical perspective, rather than a literary one, to show how they transformed society or changed readers' minds on important social issues. Entries are organized geographically by continent, and within the continent, alphabetically by country. Thirty different countries are represented, but the concentration is on novels that had an impact on Western thought. Novels had to be written in or translated into English for inclusion, but they do not have to be critically acclaimed (in fact, many were popular with the masses only). For each individual country, there is a time line of important social events to help place the literature that follows into perspective. Within specific countries, entries are arranged chronologically by date of publication. Entries are typically between one and one-and-a-half pages. Most list the title, author, and date of publication; describe the historical context in which the work was written; and give an assessment of the public's reaction to the novel and its ultimate influence on society. Each entry concludes with a short "Additional Readings" list of monographs. Four reader aids are in the back of the book--author, title, geographical, and issues indexes. There is also an appendix of additional protest novels to facilitate further investigation. Reference books examining literature from multidisciplinary perspectives seem to be on the rise. Social Protest Literature: An Encyclopedia of Works, Characters, Authors, and Themes (ABC-CLIO, 1999) is the closest parallel to The Social Impact of the Novel in scope, but it has a broader definition of literature and includes poetry and plays (about 130 of its 450 entries deal with individual literature works) rather than just novels. Entries in Social Protest Literature appear to have more detailed plot summary than in The Social Impact of the Novel but to the exclusion of more in-depth analysis on a novel's effect. Pricewise, the two volumes are comparable, and libraries may want to invest only in one. This is a useful new reference tool for researching the development of social concerns in specific areas via literature or for comparing the treatment of specific issues in the literature of different cultures. Recommended for public, high-school, and academic libraries.

Choice Review

The coauthors (who also collaborated on Understanding The Crucible: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents, 1998) cite and describe 200 novels that have exerted significant social influence. Their introduction explains that while the works chosen are not necessarily the best influential novels, they "have had a profound impact on the way individuals think and society acts, either at the time of their appearance or when they were revived at a later time." The choices necessarily yearn westward (the novel is a typically Western form; translations have not been made of many foreign novels), but represent a broad range of countries. Arranged by region and country, the book includes time lines followed by well-written and knowledgeable (though not footnoted) summaries of each novel and its impact. Use of the diverting "Issues Index" (which lists novels under such topics as "dislocation and diaspora," "parental tyranny," "sanitation") as an organizing structure might have been wiser. As it stands, the summaries do not clearly spell out which "issues" the novels touch on. Recommended for public and undergraduate libraries. C. Stevens Lake Forest College

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
Africap. 1
Egyptp. 3
Kenyap. 7
Nigeria and Senegalp. 10
Somaliap. 15
South Africap. 17
Zimbabwep. 24
ASIAp. 27
Chinap. 29
Indiap. 38
Indonesiap. 43
Japanp. 46
Australiap. 49
Australiap. 51
Europep. 61
Czechoslovakiap. 63
Englandp. 69
1600-1799p. 69
1800-1899p. 75
1900-1999p. 102
Francep. 125
1700-1799p. 125
1800-1899p. 135
1900-1999p. 151
Germanyp. 165
Irelandp. 181
Italyp. 191
Russiap. 198
Spainp. 213
North Americap. 223
Canadap. 225
Mexicop. 231
United Statesp. 234
1700-1899p. 234
1900-1939p. 263
1940-1990p. 294
South Americap. 327
Brazilp. 329
Chilep. 333
Colombiap. 336
Cubap. 339
Perup. 342
Trinidadp. 345
Appendix Additional Protest Novelsp. 347
Author Indexp. 353
Title Indexp. 357
Geographical Indexp. 361
Issues Indexp. 365