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Characters in Literary Fictions

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Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka

The book focuses on the category of character in fiction. It provides a general outline of different approaches to literary character followed by nineteen essays on individual authors from Conrad to Coetzee, on various genres from utopia, fantasy and gothic fiction to academic novel, and on characters’ extra-textual contexts from intertextuality to history and autobiography.
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A. S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book: The functions of flanks and ficelles

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A.S. Byatt’s The Children’s Book: The functions of flanks and ficelles

MAGDALENA KUŹNIAR

The present study will focus on the role of secondary characters in relation to their prominent figural counterparts from the foreground. It can be argued that the figures who are present in the projected world of a novel as ‘objects’ filling the background and, therefore, appear – at least at first sight – to be less significant or even completely unimportant for the progression of the plot, may in fact considerably influence the reader’s perception of the protagonists. In point of fact, it is the attributes of minor dramatis personae that frequently shed light on the main characters, either by analogy, highlighting some of the protagonists’ traits, or by contrast, hyperbolising some of their not unequivocally presented attributes.

The figures under analysis here are of twofold type – those that are defined by secondary characters present at the diegetic level of the novel, inhabiting the same projected world, and the ones whose essence is brought to the forefront of our perception when juxtaposed with some hypodiegetic or intertextual characters mentioned at some point in the text. Baruch Hochman applies the term flanking characters to the literary extras in the novel who are expected to flank the protagonists so that they are “experienced in all [their] vividness, complexity and coherence” (1985: 68). They support the central characters, providing a background for them and making the presentation of the protagonists more lifelike, shown rather than...

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