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Narrative Strategies in the Novels of Jeremias Gotthelf

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Robert Godwin-Jones

This study examines all Gotthelf's published novels and attempts to reconcile two aspects of his fiction which critics have generally seen as being in conflict with one another: his pedagogical intent and his artistic instinct. It does this through an analysis of the reader's role in the novels. The study seeks to reveal if and how Gotthelf's expressed intentions are reflected in the novels' narrative strategies. This involves an examination of the ways in which the reader's interest is established and maintained in the different novels and how the devices used to achieve these effects relate to the author's moral, social and political vision. Furthermore, a novel-by-novel analysis shows how the reader's role was affected by Gotthelf's changing views on the social function of his fiction.
Contents: Gotthelf's Readers - Social Reform Through Autobiography - The Reader as Mentor - The Reader as «Gardener of Happiness» - Enlightening Natural Man - Politics and Perdition - God's Hand - Battling the Zeitgeist - The Reader in Gotthelf.