This far-ranging study develops Morson's concept of ""prosaics,"" which stresses the importance of ordinary events and the novel's unique ability to portray them. Arguing that time is open and contingency real, Morson develops a ""prosaics of process"" showing how some masterpieces have found an alternative to structure. His well-known pseudonym Alicia Chudo, the inventor of ""misanthropology,"" explores the disturbing philosophical content of laughter, disgust, and even empathy. Northwestern University's most popular professor, Morson attributes declining student interest in literature to current teaching methods. He argues in favor of showing how literature fosters empathy with people unlike ourselves. Ever playful, Morson explores the relation of games to wit, which expresses the power of the mind to triumph over contingency in the social world.