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Title: The creation of literary character in the fiction of Theodor Fontane
Author: Taylor, Nadine
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the creation of character in the work of Theodor Fontane. Although he is repeatedly praised as a great writer of human character, there is no comprehensive analysis of how Fontane's characters work. This thesis is intended to fill this surprising gap in Fontane research. Its analyses do not focus on the author-text interaction as many traditional critical approaches do, but instead look at what takes place between the text and the reader. The first section, entitled 'Character in Theory', has two chapters presenting my concept of literary character. It draws on the findings of cognitive studies, including formerly neglected aspects such as affective reading and empathy. The second section, 'Character in Practice', contains four chapters. Chapter three demonstrates how our emotions can contribute to our understanding and what role is played by empathy. Chapter four shows the active role readers are required to play when putting together information about characters in Fontane's polyphonous novels. Chapter five focuses on character speech, and chapter six asks to what extent Fontane's characters can be seen to develop. The third section, 'Character in Context', takes a less hermeneutic approach. Chapter seven asks what our expectations of Realist characters are and how these influence our reading of Fontane. Chapter eight examines how our access to these characters has changed compared to the author's contemporary readership. Chapter nine presents an excursus, looking at the author's development from renditions of 'real' people to fictional characters. The last section compares this author's creations to the tentatively Modernist characters of Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks. My findings show that Fontane's characters demand and support a more active reading than Realism is usually given credit for. They suggest that the concept of Realist characters as largely descriptive creations needs to be examined critically.
Supervisor: Robertson, Ritchie Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literary Theory ; German ; Languages ; Modern ; Literature ; reader ; character ; Adultera ; Frau Jenny Treibel ; Unwiederbringlich ; figure ; Cecile ; Thomas Mann ; affective reading ; Irrungen ; Wirrungen ; Der Stechlin ; empathy ; Fontane ; Buddenbrooks ; Vor dem Sturm ; literary theory ; Effi Briest