Epitaphs for the Novel

May 21, 2014 | 2 books mentioned 8


“Who would not sing for Lycidas?” asks Milton in his famous elegy. And who, indeed, would not sing for the Novel, which has once again been declared dead? 


Epitaphs for the Novel

In Everlasting Memory of The Novel (1605 – 2014)

Wandering knight, Shipwreck survivor, Whale hunter, Homebody


The Novel (1719 – 2014)

Into the Great Omniscience


In Remembrance of The Novel (d. 2014)

Who after supplanting the Epic

Enduring that “damned mob of scribbling women”

And surviving Finnegans Wake

Finally succumbed to the Internet


The Novel (RIP)

“I couldn’t relate to you either.”


Here lies The Novel (1000 – 2014)

Multilingual polymath, Baggy monster, Repeat Booker Prize Winner


The Novel that is born of other narrative modes hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. It cometh up and is cut down, like the tree from which it was made.


Cherished Memories of The Novel (d. 2014)

“The most spectacular implosion of any genre you’re likely to see this year.”

— Gary Shteyngart


May your next chapter be free of critics and unhappy families

May you haunt those readers who left you unfinished

May you at last have time to read the Russians

And catch up on House of Cards


The Novel (1455 – 2014)

“I had a great print run.”


 “I weep for the Novel — he is dead!”

Loving son of Calliope, faithful husband of Clio, devoted father of the nouveau roman, stream of consciousness

and movie tie-ins


Here lies, within this narrow pit,

A novel, the last one ever writ.

Disturb not its pages free of crease,

Lest you come to read in peace.

Image via Grabstein/Flickr

is a staff writer for The Millions living in Durham, NC. Learn more about Matt at matthewseidel.com.


  1. Maybe SABMiller could start commissioning novelists to write really long stories on beer kegs… you know… get lit into the hands/hand trucks of the consumer.

  2. The only people who declare the novel dead are the people who do nothing but read shitty novels.

  3. Thamus, are you there? When you reach Palodes, take care to proclaim that the Novel is dead.”

  4. The current Atlantic has a piece called “How The Novel Made The Modern World,” which had one sentence that struck me: “More than with any other form of art, the relationships we have with novels are apt to approach the kind we have with people.”

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