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Understanding LovePhilosophy, Film, and Fiction$
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Susan Wolf and Christopher Grau

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195384512

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195384512.001.0001

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Dipping Into Omniscience With Willa Cather

Dipping Into Omniscience With Willa Cather

Authorial Knowledge as Love

(p.317) 15 Dipping Into Omniscience With Willa Cather
Understanding Love

George Toles

Oxford University Press

This essay reconsiders the much-maligned, "outmoded" novelistic device of omniscient narration. Toles examines the nature of narrative authority and considers the burdens (as distinct from the privileges) that authority, as well as appropriate knowledge, carry with them. The essay argues that the omniscient narrator, however impersonal or impartial his or her stance, can scarcely avoid becoming a character in relation to the displayed means of telling, feeling, judging. The principal illustration for the ways that a narrator combines a comprehensive grasp of things with the intimate perspectives of free indirect discourse is Willa Cather’s late novel, Lucy Gayheart. The essay explores Cather’s complex means of mingling detachment and love as she traces the gradual destruction of her protagonist.

Keywords:   omniscient narration, Lucy Gayheart, Willa Cather, narrative authority

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