|Abstract||This study explores Drabble's relation to the tradition of the English novel, in particular the tension between her desire to reconcile the traditional novel with her awareness of twentieth-century epistemology. Chapter One, "A Dialog With the Great Tradition," examines the conditions under which Drabble began her writing career--her nineteenth-century ideals and her twentieth-century models--and the way she explores the confines of the traditional novel in her first five novels: A Summer Bird-Cage (1963), The Garrick Year (1964), The Millstone (1965), Jerusalem the Golden (1967), and The Waterfall (1969). By the time she was writing her fifth novel, Drabble knew that it was impossible to write a straight nineteenth-century novel in the second half of the twentieth century and that all she could do was to salvage some of the moral seriousness, some of the spirit of the tradition. Chapter Two, "In the Spirit of the Tradition," focuses on Drabble's morally most assertive novels, The Needle's Eye (1972) and The Realms of Gold (1975), and the reconciliation she achieves in them between modernist depth and nineteenth-century breadth, between Virginia Woolf and Arnold Bennett. This achievement, however, is only temporary. As I show in Chapter Three, "Drabble at the Crossroads," Drabble's attempt to create a contemporary equivalent to the broad nineteenth-century social novel in The Ice Age (1977) eventually forces her in The Middle Ground (1980) to abandon conventional structures in order to capture the contingency of contemporary life. Although many critics have welcomed this final assertion of a more sophisticated vision of reality, Drabble herself has not been pleased with this development, for the post-modernist vision poses a threat to the traditional novel and her basically moral outlook. How Drabble will try to reconcile these two positions aesthetically and philosophically needs to be seen.