Reading into the Stars

Cosmopoetics in the Contemporary Novel



(Mis-)readings of the stars and our place in the cosmos have long been used as a metaphor for reading fictional worlds: to speak of ‘reading into the stars’ is to acknowledge that the stargazer instils the otherwise empty sidereal text with meaning of their own making. By contrasting this activity with novel-reading, the trope of astro-eisegesis raises questions about the nature, potential, and functions of fiction.

This amounts to a self-reflexive cosmopoetics of the novel employed by authors such as Martin Amis, John Banville, Andrew Crumey, Zadie Smith, and Jeanette Winterson, among many others. Tracing the development of the trope in narrative fictions since Chaucer and its uses in British and Irish novels since the Apollo moon landings, the book explores the epistemological, ontological and anthropological dimensions of novelistic cosmopoetics.