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

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

by Alex Woloch
     
 

"Of all the books on character in fiction, so strongly does this one impress you as being the one, that you find yourself embarrassed by a desire to write, under your own name, something 'just like it.' But because, even if you could appropriate its author's unique energy of idea and expression, your pride keeps you from becoming his clone, you renounce

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Overview

"Of all the books on character in fiction, so strongly does this one impress you as being the one, that you find yourself embarrassed by a desire to write, under your own name, something 'just like it.' But because, even if you could appropriate its author's unique energy of idea and expression, your pride keeps you from becoming his clone, you renounce imitation for a less sincere form of flattery. You admire, judge, contest the book; borrow its argument, take it elsewhere, pretend you knew it all along. In short, against this transfiguration of minor fictional characters into major critical work, you consent to be one of 'the many.'"—D. A. Miller, University of California, Berkeley

"The One Vs. The Many is a work of epic clarity and conviction. Woloch has articulated with steady command what will no doubt be recognized as our most far-reaching account of fictional characterization. His new terrain is carved out with no undue fanfare or polemic, just a fresh investigative spirit. The result is not only revisionary but revitalizing: a theory likely to enter into the very idiom of critical discourse."—Garrett Stewart, University of Iowa

"This masterful study of characterization provides a learned, creative take on the creative process itself and a beautifully articulated argument about the tensions between psychological depth and social inclusiveness. At a time when character has been eclipsed by language, Woloch reintroduces character, relationship, society. This is what many young and old critics are yearning for."—Regenia Gagnier, University of Exeter

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691113142
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
11/03/2003
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
505,210
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

PROLOGUE: The Iliad's Two Wars 1
The Proem 1
When Achilles Disappears: A Reading of Book 2 3
The Death of Lykaon 8

INTRODUCTION: Characterization and Distribution 12
Character-Space: Between Person and Form 12
Characterization and the Antinomies of Theory 14
"They Too Should Have a Case" 21
Two Kinds of Minorness 24
Function and Alienation: The Labor Theory of Character 26
Realism, Democracy, and Inequality 30
Austen, Dickens, Balzac: Character-Space in the Nineteenth-Century Novel 32
The Minor Character: Between Story and Discourse 37

CHAPTER ONE: Narrative Asymmetry in Pride and Prejudice 43
Minor Characters in a Narrative Structure 43
The Double Meaning of Character 50
The One vs. the Many 56
Asymmetry: From Discourse to Story 62
Characterizing Minorness 1: Compression 68
The Space of the Protagonist 1: Elizabeth's Consciousness 77
Characterizing Minorness 2: Externality 82
Helpers: Charlotte Lucas and the Actantial Theory 88
The Space of the Protagonist 2: Elizabeth's Self-Consciousness 97
Wickham: "How He Lived I Know Not" 103
Minor Minor Characters: Representing Multiplicity 116

CHAPTER TWO: Making More of Minor Characters 125
Distorted Characters and the Weak Protagonist 125
Between Jingle and Joe: Asymmetry and Misalignment in The Pickwick Papers 133
Seeing into Sight: Mr. Elton and Uriah Heep 143
Partial Visibility and Incomplete Vision: The Appearance of Minor Characters 149
Repetition and Eccentricity: Minor Characters and the Division of Labor 155
"Monotonous Emphasis": Minorness and Three Kinds of Repetition 167

CHAPTER THREE: Partings Welded Together: The Character-System in Great Expectations 177
Between Two Roaring Worlds: Exteriority and Characterization 177
The Structure of Childhood Experience 188
Interpreting the Character-System: 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
Magwitch's Return (the Marginal Minor Character) 217
Orlick and Social Multiplicity (the Fragmented Minor Character) 224
The Double: A Narrative Condition? 238

CHAPTER FOUR: A qui la place?: Characterization and Competition in Le Père Goriot and La Comédie humaine 244
Typification and Multiplicity 244
The Problem: Who Is the Hero? 244
Character, Type, Crowd 246
Balzac's Double Vision 255
The Character-System in Le Père Goriot 260
La belle loi de soi pour soi 260
Goriot: The Interior as Exterior 265
Rastignac: The Exterior as Interior 267
Between the Exterior and the Interior 272
Interiority and Centrality in Le Père Goriot and King Lear 282
The Shrapnel of Le Père Goriot 288
Recurring Characters, Le Père Goriot, and the Origins of La Comédie humaine 288
The Social Representation of Death: Le Père Goriot and Le Cousin Pons 295
Cogs in the Machine: Les Poiret between Le Père Goriot and Les Employeés 303
Competition and Character in Les Employeés 308

AFTERWORD: Sophocles's Oedipus Rex and the Prehistory of the Protagonist 319
Notes 337
Works Cited 375
Acknowledgments 383
Index 385

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