Three major novelists of the period following the second world war, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing and V.S. Naipaul, have pondered the question of why the post-war novel is unable to achieve the heights of its nineteenth-century predecessors. Each of these three writers has suggested remedies, to which they have aspired with varying degrees of success. And each of them offers, implicitly or explicitly, different reasons for the change. In this essay I will evaluate their arguments and attempt to account for some of the factors which give rise to the consciousness that they are different in some qualitative way from their predecessors. I will also discuss the effect such attitudes may have on their own work
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