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Title:The Bastard Hero in The Novel (France, England, Russia)
Author(s):Goscilo, Margaret Bozenna
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Comparative
Abstract:The bastard hero is a complex type whose mere birth outside the norm of marriage launches him into irregular relationships with most of the world, ipso facto rendering him marginal and alienated. The novel, with its own uncertain origins and initially uneasy status outside normative structures, is the literary genre which proves most congenial to the bastard and which fully develops his promise as a fictional protagonist. Given its assimilation of mythic and family-romance values, its generic alignment with individualism and its high priority for exploring identity, the novel in fact inclines toward protagonists, like the bastard, whose quest for self-definition is peculiarly involved, intense and potentially subversive of the patriarchy.
The bastard heroes of Fielding's Tom Jones and Stendhal's Le Rouge et le noir and La Chartreuse de Parme share a fairy-tale glamour derived from their roots in that primal fiction, the family romance. Their illegitimacy makes them exceptional youths, exemplars of a natural energy challenging the patriarchal status quo.
By contrast, the heroes of Turgenev's Virgin Soil and James's The Princess Casamassima are characterized by passivity, despite their common attraction to revolution against the social systems that ostracize them for their irregular origins.
In Dostoevsky's The Adolescent and Gide's Les Faux-Monnayeurs, a confused network of disintegrating families serves as the backdrop for the adventures of an adolescent bastard hero who leaves his paternal home to come to terms with his identity. Both Dostoevsky and Gide give their protagonists a metaphysical dimension by having them retrace the homeward path of the Prodigal Son.
In The Adolescent and Les Faux-Monnayeurs, as well as in the preceding novels, the characterization of an actual bastard shades over into the metaphorical illegitimacy, or alienation, of other literary personas, as, for example, the artist, the actor, the existentialist seeker, the Romantic solitary outcast. All of these figures are co-opted by that rich, multi-dimensional embodiment of anarchy and singularity--the illegitimate son, a hero most suitable for a genre itself susceptible to being considered idiosyncratic and subversively ambiguous in its own origins.
Issue Date:1984
Description:371 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1984.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8422070
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1984

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