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Characters in Literary Fictions


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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The realistic novel and the creation of literary characters: William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury



In an exemplary nineteenth-century realistic novel1, the creation of a literary character – understood as an integral, fictional component of the presented world expressed in the text – involves the use of the following rules of construction:

The first rule: A literary character has to be anthropomorphic (Markiewicz 1984), and not a plant, an animal or a thing. Even if a literary character undergoes a metamorphosis, it has to take place in the background and under the influence of social realities in the world presented in a novel. This metamorphosis must therefore be probable (not fantastic), well-motivated, and logical within the cause-effect sequence of events2. Even when events are not presented in the chronological order, its reconstruction should not cause any problem for the reader. Moreover, the metamorphosis should not have ontological nature – in this regard, the status of the character remains clear from the beginning to the end. In the presented literary convention of the novel there is no place for the metamorphosis of a character into a cockroach or an electric bell, for example, which is entirely possible in grotesque or satirical texts. In the realistic novel we deal with the change of the fate of a character, whose identity is relatively stable and possible to recognise despite ← 144 | 145 → the passage of time, but we do not encounter radical transformations from one form of existence into another.

The second rule: A literary character should have his name and surname....

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