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Title: Unsuitable forms : character in the fiction of Saul Bellow from 'Dangling Man' to 'Mr Sammler's Planet'
Author: Willett, Neil
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1997
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Abstract:
The thesis's two starting points are Bellow's 1967 short story "The Old System" and his 1959 essay "Deep Readers of the World, Beware!". A close reading of the former finds that the antipathy expressed in the latter - an antipathy towards critical preference for "meaning" over "feeling", towards the "practice of avoidance" in which literature is interpreted as being primarily a system of motifs and symbols - is implicitly present in the fiction itself. The readings of the novels from Dangling Man to Mr Sammler's Planet attend to the workings within them of the "deeply readable", of the proliferation of "meanings" which provokes a kind of hermeneutic double-take; the texts are replete with motifs and symbols, structured so that they invite attempts at "deep reading". The novels also display an awareness of this, are conscious of their own "preferences", and are concerned for the consequences of their "practices". In Dangling Man, the "deeply readable" is given a free hand, occupies the entirety of the text, but thereafter Bellow's novels react against it, against their own emergent "meanings". The anxiety which drives this reaction derives from Bellow's approach to the notion of "character"; his fiction's structures knowingly configure "character" as an unsuitable form, co-opt it as a means to the narrative's own ends. The novel's conclusions exhibit the disengagement of these narrative agencies from that which they have educed into the form of a "central character", rendering it ultimately opaque, preserving it at the last from the threatened dissolution into the text's patternings.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.663802  DOI: Not available
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