Typical People in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

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Typical People in the Nineteenth-Century Novel

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Title: Typical People in the Nineteenth-Century Novel
Author: Brink-Roby, Heather
Citation: Brink-Roby, Heather. 2015. Typical People in the Nineteenth-Century Novel. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: We usually encounter objects as instances: a pen, a tree, a stream. We approach them as logically subsumed. But George Eliot's Saint Theresa or Charles Dickens’s Mr. Turveydrop is not an instance of something but rather has instances: the uncounted “Theresas” or the “many Mr. Turveydrops.” The individual functions itself as a concept. It becomes a mental representation of a whole class of things. Logically, it is not enclosed but rather encloses. Referentially, it picks out a domain within the world and opens a new space in the mind. The character becomes many. He is everywhere in the way that maple tree or red is. As concepts, these characters become the constituents of thought; we think with persons.

Such types are where investigation of the nature of ideas touches that on the possibilities of artistic representation and the risks of social being. But they are also where art itself feels its surround, referentially and methodologically. Through its shared preoccupation with the concept and shared language of the type, the novel became fully alive to concurrent work in other fields and tried its implications; it assimilated, rebuffed, and creatively misprized contemporary theories of the type in philosophical logic, statistics, sociology, medicine, psychology, comparative anatomy, biological taxonomy, and evolutionary theory. Drawing from the outer edge of the novel and beyond it, the type defined the work of the writers studied here—Charles Dickens, Honoré de Balzac, George Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Thomas Hardy—from its core.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:17467515
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