Che cosa fa di un grande romanzo il grande romanzo?

Se lo chiede Gabriel Brownstein e cerca di rispondere esaminando due romanzi usciti recentemente, Freedom di Jonathan Franzen e The Cookbook Collector di Allegra Goodman.
Verso la fine del suo lungo articolo Brownstein dice, "Twenty years ago, David Foster Wallace wrote an essay called 'E Unibus Plurum: Television and U.S. Fiction,' in which he worried that the irony of his favorite post-moderns (Pynchon, Delillo, Gaddis, Barth) had been co-opted in his generation of post-modernists' lives by television, in particular leering, cynical 'I know this is just an ad' kind of TV ads.  Wallace worried that his generation of post-modernists had fallen into a trap, a reflexive, cold irony he called 'televisual,' and he described this irony’s gaze as 'the girl who’s dancing with you but who would rather be dancing with someone else.'  Allegra Goodman, of course, is in no danger of falling into this trap. ... Meanwhile Franzen's novel - his whole career, really - is a struggle with this postmodern ironical trap, a struggle to inhabit it and get out of it, to be humane and to be ironic. ... Franzen is dancing with you, sure, ... but he's not wholeheartedly on the floor with his partners.  Allegra Goodman loves her characters - they absorb her attention as if she could wish for nothing more, and she offers them intimately to her readers, so much so that the author herself all but vanishes.  Franzen's characters meanwhile exist somewhere beneath the glory of his prose.  His book is not so much addressed to the intimate reader, it's addressed to the judges and the crowds.  themillions.

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