Franco Moretti takes the study of genre as his subject, not individual texts. My provocation for the “Trees” section of his though-provoking work “Graphs, Maps, and Trees” involves the idea of the novel as a temporal “slice.” Diachronic succession vs. Synchronic drifting apart. Moretti is using innovative theories to help define fresh morphological distinctions for the novel as genre. What types of novels embody portions of synchronic and diachronic morphology? Is it possible to have characters that embody consciousness that differs along these lines? What would a novel look like that had one of these morphologies on the local level, and the other on the global level, made clear through a close reading of the text? What happens if those distinctions are reversed? Can a novel be written to be read both ways, depending on a variety of entry points?
Franco Moretti’s “Trees”