The most diverse, mobile and enduringly popular of our literary forms, the novel is an enigmatic thing on many levels but none more so than its capacity to appear not an enigma at all but rather as common and expected as rain. A number of the essays collected in these two volumes engage with the paradoxes generated by the novel's immanent claim to ‘ordinariness’. In ‘The Prose of the World’ (Vol 2: Forms and Themes), Michal Peled Ginsburg and Lorri G. Nandrea, historicise the cultural situation of prose as the realm of ‘unworked on language, language in its “ordinary form”‘, a realm at once morally superior to poetry's play with potentially deceitful tropes and figures, yet also a dull realm, decent yet ‘prosaic’: ‘The problem with “the prose of the world” then, is not – or not so much – that it poses obstacles to the aspirations of the soul but that it is formless. The prose of the world is then the product of the loss of enabling, meaning-producing, forms – social, epistemological, and literary’ (p. 248). Nancy Armstrong in ‘The Fiction of Bourgeois Morality and the Paradox of Individualism’, (Vol. 2: Forms and Themes), and Moretti in ‘Serious Century’ (Vol 1: History, Geography and Culture) likewise draw out the novel's strange capacity to normalise its own procedures as not procedures at all, its forms as not form at all.