Writing in Modern literature and the experience of time (published in the out-of-print The Modern English Novel), Gabriel Josipovici argues:
The principles of fragmentation and discontinuity, of repetition and spiralling, which we found underlying the works of Kafka, Eliot, Stevens, Proust and Robbe-Grillet do not reveal anything so banal as the final disintegration of the western imagination. What they reveal is the potential in each moment, each word, each gesture and each event, a potential denied by the linear way we live our lives and read our books ... for this very reason there is something deeply worrying to the critic about such art.
I've been thinking about this whilst reading Coetzee's Slow Man, although it isn't time's linearity that Coetzee is disrupting in his latest novel.
19th-century novels are fabulous and we should all read them, but we shouldn't write them.