The One Vs. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel

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Princeton University Press, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 391 pages
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Does a novel focus on one life or many? Alex Woloch uses this simple question to develop a powerful new theory of the realist novel, based on how narratives distribute limited attention among a crowded field of characters. His argument has important implications for both literary studies and narrative theory.


Characterization has long been a troubled and neglected problem within literary theory. Through close readings of such novels as Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, and Le Père Goriot, Woloch demonstrates that the representation of any character takes place within a shifting field of narrative attention and obscurity. Each individual--whether the central figure or a radically subordinated one--emerges as a character only through his or her distinct and contingent space within the narrative as a whole. The "character-space," as Woloch defines it, marks the dramatic interaction between an implied person and his or her delimited position within a narrative structure. The organization of, and clashes between, many character-spaces within a single narrative totality is essential to the novel's very achievement and concerns, striking at issues central to narrative poetics, the aesthetics of realism, and the dynamics of literary representation.


Woloch's discussion of character-space allows for a different history of the novel and a new definition of characterization itself. By making the implied person indispensable to our understanding of literary form, this book offers a forward-looking avenue for contemporary narrative theory.


 

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Contents

The Iliads Two Wars
1
A Reading of Book 2
3
The Death of Lykaon
8
Characterization and Distribution
12
Characterization and the Antinomies of Theory
14
They Too Should Have a Case
21
Two Kinds of Minorness
24
The Labor Theory of Character
26
Partings Welded Together The CharacterSystem in Great Expectations
177
The Structure of Childhood Experience
188
Signification Position Structure
194
Metaphor Metonymy and Characterization
198
Getting to London
207
Three Narrative Workers and the Dispersion of Labor in Great Expectations
213
Wemmick as Helper the Functional Minor Character
214
Magwitchs Return the Marginal Minor Character
217

Realism Democracy and Inequality
30
CharacterSpace in the NineteenthCentury Novel
32
Between Story and Discourse
37
Narrative Asymmetry in Pride and Prejudice
43
The Double Meaning of Character
50
The One vs the Many
56
From Discourse to Story
62
Compression
68
Elizabeths Consciousness
77
Externality
82
Charlotte Lucas and the Actantial Theory
88
Elizabeths SelfConsciousness
97
How He Lived I Know Not
103
Representing Multiplicity
116
Making More of Minor Characters
125
Asymmetry and Misalignment in The Pickwick Papers
133
Mr Elton and Uriah Heep
143
The Appearance of Minor Characters
149
Minor Characters and the Division of Labor
155
Minorness and Three Kinds of Repetition
167
Orlick and Social Multiplicity tthe Fragmented Minor Character
224
A Narrative Condition?
238
A qui la place? Characterization and Competition in Le Pere Goriot and La Comedie humaine
244
Character Type Crowd
246
Balzacs Double Vision
255
The CharacterSystem in Le Pere Goriot La belle lot de soi pour soi
260
The Interior as Exterior
265
The Exterior as Interior
267
Between the Exterior and the Interior
272
Interiority and Centrality in Le Pere Goriot and King Lear
282
The Shrapnel of Le Pere Goriot
288
Le Pere Goriot and Le Cousin Pons
295
Les Poiret between Le Pere Goriot and Les Employes
303
Competition and Character in Les Employes
308
Sophocless Oedipus and the Prehistory of the Protagonist
319
Notes
337
Works Cited
375
Acknowledgments
383
Index
385
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