Indexing Bleg

I need help with a bit of phrasing, index-wise. A bit of necessary background: at one point in the book, I discuss at length the various pronouncements of the death of the novel. These are indexed as:

death of the novel, pronouncements

Where I discuss the purposes that such pronouncements serve (the key turn in my argument), I’ve indexed them as:

death of the novel, pronouncements, function of

Various things that are blamed in such pronouncements for having killed off the novel are indexed as:

death of the novel, causes

Now I need to index my discussion of John Barth’s claim, in “The Literature of Exhaustion,” that “Whether historically the novel expires or persists seems immaterial to me; if enough writers and critics feel apocalyptical about it, their feeling becomes a considerable cultural fact…” How would you characterize that? What’s coming to mind is

death of the novel, irrelevance of

but that’s not exactly right. “Immateriality of” also totally misses the mark. What the discussion focuses on is the fact that, for Barth, at least, the actual death of the novel is less important than the sense that the novel has died; “irrelevance of” makes it sound like the imagined death wouldn’t matter, either. “Actual irrelevance of”? “Irrelevance of reality of”? “Imaginary importance of”? “Feeling as creator of”?

Ack! Help, expression of the need for!

6 thoughts on “Indexing Bleg

  1. Death of the novel, consensual hallucination of

    Death of the novel, imagined community of

    Death of the novel, performative articulations of

    Death of the novel, irrelevance of reality-based refutations of


  2. What about using “significance” and “insignificance” to contrast? For the purposes of the pronouncements, you could have “death of the novel, pronouncements, significance of” and for Barth’s comment and the like, “death of the novel, insignifance of.” I know that “significance” isn’t a spot-on substitution for function, but I thought I’d chime in anyway.

  3. Why not just have a big “death of the novel” category and no subdivisions? Otherwise this’ll wind up like the bookstore in _If on a winter’s night a traveler_.

  4. Yeah, that’s kinda how I feel, Scott, but my press wants any item with more than six (they say; I’m making it more like ten) separate references to be broken down into subcategories. So subdivisions it is. (You should see the subdivisions under “television.” There are 38. Though I was thinking less Calvino and more Borges: “the animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the emperor, (b) embalmed, (c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs, (h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camelhair brush, (l) et cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long way off look like flies.”)

    Collin, Shauna, and Francois — thanks for the suggestions! What I’ve ended up with, at least temporarily, is “death of the novel, imaginary status of.” I’m not satisfied with it, but nothing else is really ringing right yet. (Significance/insignificance is really close, though.) I’m going to let it sit for a few days and see what I think.

  5. Funny. I was thinking of Foucault’s reference to that Borges right after I posted it. You could maybe organize it according to something like this:

    Death of the novel, arbitrary grouping

    Death of the novel, beginning with the letter B

    Death of the novel, zombie novels


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