Is There Life in the Novel of Ideas?

Hosted by the Forum for European Philosophy and LSE Literary Festival

Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building,


Professor Peter Boxall

Professor Peter Boxall

Jennie Erdal

Jennie Erdal

Andrew O’Hagan

Andrew O’Hagan


Michael Caines

Is the 'novel of ideas' an outdated genre or are we witnessing its resurgence? What answers can it offer to twenty-first-century questions? In this panel three speakers will discuss examples of the 'novel of ideas' and assess the genre's contemporary relevance.

Peter Boxall is Professor of English and Deputy Head of the School of English at the University of Sussex.  His research has focused on the relationship between aesthetics and politics in modernist and contemporary writing, and more recently on the longer history of the novel. He has written books on Samuel Beckett and Don DeLillo, and a wide ranging book on the contemporary novel, entitled Twenty-First-Century Fiction. He is currently writing a book entitled The Value of the Novel, for Cambridge University Press (due out in 2015), and in the early stages of a new project on the history of the novel, entitled The Prosthetic Imagination: A History of the Novel as Artificial Life.

Jennie Erdal worked in literary publishing for many years as an editor and translator. At Quartet Books she managed the Russian list, and in the mid-eighties she started Quartet Encounters, an imprint that focused on literature in translation. For much of this time she was also the ghostwriter of a London publisher, who figured prominently in her subsequent memoir, Ghosting: A Double Life whichbecame an international bestseller.  In 2012 she published The Missing Shade of Blue, which was longlisted for the 2013 Commonwealth Book Prize. Jennie Erdal has appeared in Granta magazine and is a regular contributor of features and reviews for the arts pages of the Financial Times and other publications. She currently teaches creative writing at the University of Dundee.

Andrew O’Hagan is one of his generation’s most exciting and most serious chroniclers of contemporary Britain. He has twice been nominated for the Man Booker Prize. His books include The MissingThe Atlantic OceanOur FathersPersonalityBe Near Me and The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog. He was voted one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in 2003. He has won the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. He is Editor at Large of the London Review of Books. His new novel The Illuminations will be published in February 2015.

Michael Caines (@michaelscaines) is an editor at the Times Literary Supplement.

The Forum for European Philosophy (@LSEPhilosophy) is an educational charity which organises and runs a full and varied programme of philosophy and interdisciplinary events in the UK.

This event forms part of the LSE Space for Thought Literary Festival 2015, taking place from Monday 23 - Saturday 28 February 2015, with the theme 'Foundations'.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #LSElitfest


A podcast of this event is available to download from Is There Life in the Novel of Ideas?

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.