Plots by Robert L. BelknapPlots by Robert L. Belknap


byRobert L. BelknapIntroduction byRobin Feuer Miller

Hardcover | May 17, 2016

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Robert L. Belknap's theory of plot illustrates the active and passive roles literature plays in creating its own dynamic reading experience. Literary narrative enchants us through its development of plot, but plot tells its own story about the making of narrative, revealing through its structures, preoccupations, and strategies of representation critical details about how and when a work came into being.

Through a rich reading of Shakespeare's King Lear and Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, Belknap explores the spatial, chronological, and causal aspects of plot, its brilliant manipulation of reader frustration and involvement, and its critical cohesion of characters. He considers Shakespeare's transformation of dramatic plot through parallelism, conflict, resolution, and recognition. He then follows with Dostoevsky's development of the rhetorical and moral devices of nineteenth-century Russian fiction, along with its epistolary and detective genres, to embed the reader in the murder Raskolnikov commits. Dostoevsky's reinvention of the psychological plot was profound, and Belknap effectively challenges the idea that the author abused causality to achieve his ideological conclusion. In a final chapter, Belknap argues that plots teach us novelistic rather than poetic justice. Operating according to their own logic, plots provide us with a compelling way to see and order our world.

Robert L. Belknap (1929-2014) was professor of Slavic languages and a former dean of Columbia University. He authored two major studies of Dostoevsky's masterpiece The Brothers Karamazov: The Structure of "The Brothers Karamazov" (1989) and Genesis of "The Brothers Karamazov": The Aesthetics, Ideology, and Psychology of Making a Text ...
Title:PlotsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:200 pagesPublished:May 17, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231177828

ISBN - 13:9780231177825


Table of Contents

PrefaceIntroduction, by Robin Feuer MillerPart I. Literary Plots Deserve Still More Study1. Plots Arrange Literary Experience2. Plot Summaries Need More Serious Study3. The Fabula Arranges the Events in the World the Characters Inhabit; the Siuzhet Arranges the Events in the World the Reader Encounters in the Text4. Authors Can Relate One Incident to Another Only Chronologically, Spatially, Causally, Associatively, or Narratively5. Plots are Fractal, Formed from Incidents That Are Formed from Smaller, Similarly Shaped Incidents6. The Best Authorities Consider Plots and Incidents to Be Tripartite, with a Situation, a Need, and an Action7. But Siuzhets and the Incidents That Form Them Have Two Parts: An Expectation and Its Fulfillment or FrustrationPart II. The Plot of King Lear Operates Purposefully But Also Reflects the Creative Process8. For Integrity of Impact, Stages, Actors, and the Audience Need a Unity of Action9. Shakespeare Replaced the Greek Unity of Action with a New Thematic Unity Based on Parallelism10. Shakespeare Uses Conflict, the Righting of Wrongs, the Healing of an Inruption or Disruption, and Other Standard Plotting Devices, But His Recognition Scenes Move Us Most11. Shakespeare Prepares for His Recognition Scenes with Elaborate Lies12. In King Lear, Shakespeare Uses Elaborated Lies to Psychologize the Gloucester Subplot13. Tolstoy and Tate Preferred the Comforting Plots of Lear's Sources to Shakespeare's, But Shakespeare Had Considered That Variant and Rejected ItPart III. The Plot of Crime and Punishment Draws Rhetorical and Moral Power from the Nature of Novel Plots and from the European and Russian Tradition Dostoevsky Inherited and Developed14. European Novelists Elaborated or Assembled Incidents into Plots Long Before Critics Recognized the Sophistication of the New Genre in Plotting Such Subgenres as the Letter Novel and the Detective Novel15. Dostoevsky Shaped and Was Shaped by the Russian Version of the Nineteenth-Century Novel16. In Reinventing the Psychological Plot, Dostoevsky Challenged the Current Literary Leaders17. The Siuzhet of Part 1 of Crime and Punishment Programs the Reader to Read the Rest and to Participate Actively in a Vicious Murder18. The One-Sidedness of Desire and Violence in Crime and Punishment Is More Peculiar to Dostoevsky's Plotting Than Dostoevshchina19. Critics Often Attack Crime and Punishment for a Rhetoric That Exploits Causality in Ways They Misunderstand20. The Epilogue of Crime and Punishment Crystallizes Its Ideological Plot21. The Plots of Novels Teach Novelistic Justice, Not Poetic JusticeBibliographyIndexWorks by Robert Belknap

Editorial Reviews

A valuable addition to the scholarship on plot and narration