This essay foregrounds the hermeneutic purchase of totality in contemporary literary criticism. Responding to the recent proliferation of the “gig work” novel, the essay takes up two interrelated lines of inquiry: How might we rethink the conceptual affordances of “totality” for the ongoing project of the critique of political economy? What would a rethinking of totality’s position in the conceptual architecture of literary criticism offer in the way of new heuristics for the analysis of the novel? Through recourse to G. W. F. Hegel’s Science of Logic and Michael Theunissen, Hans-Friedrich Fulda, and Rolf-Peter Horstmann’s Critical Presentation of Metaphysics: A Discussion of Hegel’s “Logic” (Kritische Darstellung der Metaphysik: Eine Diskussion über Hegels “Logik”), this essay proposes a method of literary analysis that approaches the formal aspects of the novel as defined through the historical-material conditions for the writing of the text. The essay then puts a close reading of Hilary Leichter’s Temporary in conversation with Sarah Brouillette’s account of the decline of the English-language literary novel to suggest how the formal properties of the contemporary gig work novel respond to the general crisis of novel production in the twenty-first century.

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