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Why always Dorothea?

John Mullan: How caricature can be sharp perception, 5 May 2005

The One v. the Many: Minor Characters and the Space of the Protagonist in the Novel 
by Alex Woloch.
Princeton, 391 pp., £13.95, February 2005, 0 691 11314 9
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... is a book, as its author says, about ‘how living persons get rendered into literary form’. Alex Woloch himself notes that literary theory has always been unhappy with the idea of ‘character’. He quotes, with I think unintended comic effect, the wonderfully solemn perplexity of Mieke Bal in Narratology (1985), faced by this troubling illusion ...

I say, damn it, where are the beds?

David Trotter: Orwell’s Nose and Prose, 16 February 2017

Orwell’s Nose: A Pathological Biography 
by John Sutherland.
Reaktion, 256 pp., £15, August 2016, 978 1 78023 648 3
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Or Orwell: Writing and Democratic Socialism 
by Alex Woloch.
Harvard, 378 pp., £35.95, January 2016, 978 0 674 28248 3
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... different proposition, as its 61 pages of industrial-strength endnotes make abundantly clear. Alex Woloch’s purpose is to remedy the relative neglect visited on an ‘iconic political writer’ by ‘literary theory and criticism’ – despite, or perhaps because of, their increasing preoccupation with politics. Whereas Sutherland prefers to stay ...

Different Speeds, Same Furies

Perry Anderson: Powell v. Proust, 19 July 2018

Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time 
by Hilary Spurling.
Hamish Hamilton, 509 pp., £25, October 2017, 978 0 241 14383 4
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... as a name. In other words, the ‘character-space’ of the two works, to use the term coined by Alex Woloch in his pioneering study of the relationship between major and minor figures in the novel, The One v. the Many, is quite distinct. Powell’s is demographically much richer. If we reckon that, fictionally speaking, the critical measure is not the ...

Time Unfolded

Perry Anderson: Powell v. the World, 2 August 2018

... many ‘actants’ occupying six invariant positions in any given tale. ‘For a long time now,’ Alex Woloch writes in The One v. the Many, ‘characterisation has been the bête noire of narratology, provoking either cursory dismissal, lingering uncertainty or vociferous argument.’ Continuing poststructuralist and ongoing scientistic trends in ...

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