Our self-consciousness as human beings entails creating a narrative of our lives. How the sense of self is produced, and whether it is anything more than an illusory by-product of brain activity, are questions that have been closely studied and fiercely debated in the sciences in recent years. David Lodge shows here, the novel has for centuries been attempting to map this same territory.
In the title essay and a series of interconnected essays on the works of Dickens, Forster, Waugh, Kingsley and Martin Amis, Henry James and Updike, and dealing occasionally with the processes involved in his own writing, Lodge pursues the various techniques that writers have used to represent consciousness. Above all, he gives us a glimpse of the mysterious workings of the creative mind.