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The One vs. the Many : Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel - Alex Woloch

The One vs. the Many

Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel

Paperback Published: 23rd November 2003
ISBN: 9780691113142
Number Of Pages: 408

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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 Pere 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.

Winner of the 2004 Sonya Rudikoff Book Award, Northeast Victorian Studies Association "Character is an unfashionable subject within the current doxa of literary studies, and one of the many strengths of Alex Woloch's study is his unabashed facing of the problem head-on... This book insists on questions that have been skirted or marginalized, but cannot be made to go away."--Rachel Malik, New Left Review "Reading Alex Woloch's The One vs. the Many, I found myself frequently reminded of de Man's drive to 'inscribe the polemics inside the question rather than having them determine it,' a critical gesture Woloch pulls off with a great deal of flair and elegance... The implications of The One vs. the Many for the study of modernism will be profound... [T]here is, after Woloch, fresh work to do."--Eric Hayot, Modernism/Modernity "[The One vs. the Many explains] how the conflict between a character's full personhood and its narrative function is the key cultural reason for characterization and, more specifically, a main source of the realist novel's social significance. In doing so, the book ends a century's critical infighting with a visionary appreciation of the meaning of fictional people."--Jesse Matz, Modern Language Quarterly

Prologue: The Iliad's Two Warsp. 1
The Proemp. 1
When Achilles Disappears: A Reading of Book 2p. 3
The Death of Lykaonp. 8
Introduction: Characterization and Distributionp. 12
Character-Space: Between Person and Formp. 12
Characterization and the Antinomies of Theoryp. 14
"They Too Should Have a Case"p. 21
Two Kinds of Minornessp. 24
Function and Alienation: The Labor Theory of Characterp. 26
Realism, Democracy, and Inequalityp. 30
Austen, Dickens, Balzac: Character-Space in the Nineteenth-Century Novelp. 32
The Minor Character: Between Story and Discoursep. 37
Narrative Asymmetry in Pride and Prejudicep. 43
Minor Characters in a Narrative Structurep. 43
The Double Meaning of Characterp. 50
The One vs. the Manyp. 56
Asymmetry: From Discourse to Storyp. 62
Characterizing Minorness 1: Compressionp. 68
The Space of the Protagonist 1: Elizabeth's Consciousnessp. 77
Characterizing Minorness 2: Externalityp. 82
Helpers: Charlotte Lucas and the Actantial Theoryp. 88
The Space of the Protagonist 2: Elizabeth's Self-Consciousnessp. 97
Wickham: "How He Lived I Know Not"p. 103
Minor Minor Characters: Representing Multiplicityp. 116
Making More of Minor Charactersp. 125
Distorted Characters and the Weak Protagonistp. 125
Between Jingle and Joe: Asymmetry and Misalignment in The Pickwick Papersp. 133
Seeing into Sight: Mr. Elton and Uriah Heepp. 143
Partial Visibility and Incomplete Vision: The Appearance of Minor Charactersp. 149
Repetition and Eccentricity: Minor Characters and the Division of Laborp. 155
"Monotonous Emphasis": Minorness and Three Kinds of Repetitionp. 167
Partings Welded Together: The Character-System in Great Expectationsp. 177
Between Two Roaring Worlds: Exteriority and Characterizationp. 177
The Structure of Childhood Experiencep. 188
Interpreting the Character-System: Signification, Position, Structurep. 194
Metaphor, Metonymy, and Characterizationp. 198
Getting to Londonp. 207
Three Narrative Workers and the Dispersion of Labor in Great Expectationsp. 213
Wemmick as Helper (the Functional Minor Character)p. 214
Magwitch's Return (the Marginal Minor Character)p. 217
Orlick and Social Multiplicity (the Fragmented Minor Character)p. 224
The Double: A Narrative Condition?p. 238
A qui la place?: Characterization and Competition in Le Pegrave;re Goriot and La Comeacute;die humainep. 244
Typification and Multiplicityp. 244
The Problem: Who Is the Hero?p. 244
Character, Type, Crowdp. 246
Balzac's Double Visionp. 255
The Character-System in Le Pegrave;re Goriotp. 260
La belle loi de soi pour soip. 260
Goriot: The Interior as Exteriorp. 265
Rastignac: The Exterior as Interiorp. 267
Between the Exterior and the Interiorp. 272
Interiority and Centrality in Le Pegrave;re Goriot and King Learp. 282
The Shrapnel of Le Pegrave;re Goriotp. 288
Recurring Characters, Le Pegrave;re Goriot, and the Origins of La Comeacute;die humainep. 288
The Social Representation of Death: Le Pegrave;re Goriot and Le Cousin Ponsp. 295
Cogs in the Machine: Les Poiret between Le Pegrave;re Goriot and Les Employeeacute;sp. 303
Competition and Character in Les Employeeacute;sp. 308
Afterword: Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and the Prehistory of the Protagonistp. 319
Notesp. 337
Works Citedp. 375
Acknowledgmentsp. 383
Indexp. 385
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691113142
ISBN-10: 0691113149
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 408
Published: 23rd November 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.2  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.54