“The novel” (I'll come back to that) is not what it used to be. This is the lesson Timothy Bewes offers in his remarkable and challenging, if also frustrating, new book, Free Indirect. Bewes is “primarily concerned,” he writes in the introduction, with writing from “the two decades since the publication of J. M. Coetzee's novel Elizabeth Costello (2003)” (5) (although in point of fact the book is also a lot about film, and mostly about films from a bit earlier, the latter half of the twentieth century, like Godard's 1967 Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle). Bewes sees “the novel” as evolving (the word is his: “an evolution of the novel is underway” [9]) toward a new mode of thought in these decades. Elizabeth Costello is not an origin point, he says, although there is a section later in the book titled “The Elizabeth Costello...

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