Flat Protagonists: A Theory of Novel Character

Hardcover | January 9, 2017

byMarta Figlerowicz

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We've all encountered protagonists who, over the course of a novel, turn out to be more complicated than we thought at first. But what does one do with a major character who simplifies as a novel progresses, to the point where even this novel's other characters begin to disregard him? FlatProtagonists shows that writers have undertaken such formal experiments - which give rise to its titular "flat protagonists" - since the novel's incipience. It finds such characters in British and French novels ranging from the late-seventeenth to the early-twentieth century by Aphra Behn, Isabellede Charriere, Francoise de Graffigny, Thomas Hardy, and Marcel Proust. Marta Figlerowicz argues that these uncommon flat protagonists challenge our larger views about the novel as a genre. Upending a longstanding tradition of valuing characters for their complexity, Figlerowicz proposes that novels, and their characters, should be appreciated for highlighting thelimits to how much attention any particular person's self-expression tends to garner, and how much insight anyone has to offer her community. As invitations to consider how we might come across to others, rather than merely how others come across to us, flat protagonists both subvert and complementthe more conventional approach to novels as, at their best, sites of instruction in interpersonal empathy.

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We've all encountered protagonists who, over the course of a novel, turn out to be more complicated than we thought at first. But what does one do with a major character who simplifies as a novel progresses, to the point where even this novel's other characters begin to disregard him? FlatProtagonists shows that writers have undertaken...

Marta Figlerowicz is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and English at Yale University.

other books by Marta Figlerowicz

Spaces of Feeling: Affect and Awareness in Modernist Literature
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Hardcover|Dec 15 2017

$73.42$82.50list pricesave 11%
Format:HardcoverDimensions:208 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.98 inPublished:January 9, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190496762

ISBN - 13:9780190496760

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