Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
Peter Straub’s Shadowland: Character in the liminal space
The present study focuses on the development of the protagonist in relation to the spatial setting of events which are crucial for the process of his becoming1. First, however, to provide the ensuing discussion with theoretical grounding, it seems reasonable to address briefly the issue of characterisation and its place in contemporary narrative theory. What is striking is the relative neglect of fictional characters in twentieth-century literary studies, so acutely perceived by many scholars. Alex Woloch’s monograph The One vs. the Many. Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel, published in 2004 by Princeton University Press, one of very few studies dealing with characters in fiction, opens with a survey of the complaints voiced by various prominent literary theorists. The catalogue of the shortcomings presented by Woloch includes relevant statements by Jonathan Culler, Seymour Chatman, Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan and Mieke Bal. It is Culler who sets the tone by stating that “character is the major aspect of the novel to which structuralism has paid least attention and has been least successful in treating”; he is echoed by Chatman who observes that “it is remarkable how little has been said about the theory of character in literary history and criticism” (both scholars quoted in Woloch 2004: 14). In the same vein, Rimmon-Kenan points out that “the elaboration of a systematic, non-reductive but also non-impressionistic theory of character remains one of the challenges poetics has not yet met” (quoted in Woloch 2004:...
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