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Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century NovelThe Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction$
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Michiel Heyns

Print publication date: 1994

Print ISBN-13: 9780198182702

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198182702.001.0001

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Introduction: Complicity, Community, and Critical Method

Introduction: Complicity, Community, and Critical Method

(p.1) Introduction: Complicity, Community, and Critical Method
Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel

Michiel Heyns

Oxford University Press

This book examines five central realist novels, in relation to one another and other works, hoping to demonstrate both the connectedness and the dissimilarity of the dynamics of novelistic representation and the mechanics of social control. These are Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, Charles Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, and Henry James's The Golden Bowl. Scapegoating is, as René Girard has shown, a mob effect, the mobilisation of the prejudices of a society in times of crisis. If one defines the literary scapegoat as that figure that has to bear the burden of guilt of a particular community, usually by being sacrificed or expelled, then, in the model, the narrative itself constitutes a community, generating pressures that eventually expel those characters that disturb the equilibrium which it is the aim of narrative closure to restore. The book attempts to gauge the pressures generated by narrative to void it of those elements impeding the resolution, but also to record the countervailing resistance of realist representation to the coercion of closure.

Keywords:   René Girard, literary scapegoat, scapegoating, realist novels, social control, Jane Austen, Henry James, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad

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