The Poetics of Protest

The Poetics of Protest

Literary Form and Political Implication in the Victim-of-society Novel

Book - 1985
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Goodin takes a formalistic approach to political expression in the victim-of-society novel, asking the question, how do the formal features of the novel con­strain thematic expression.


He notes that the writer must balance the protagonist's role as victim against the role as resilient human being capable of dealing with his or her problems. If the protagonist is too strong, both help and reform become unnecessary; if too weak, the situation becomes hopeless, thus limiting the power and appeal of the work as art and as political protest.


The appeal is similarly limited if the antagonist is purely evil; the battle lines are clearly defined, but there is noth­ing human to fight. Conversely an an­tagonist who is too human may attract reader sympathy, and the political situa­tion loses clarity. Thus the writer must avoid too much or too little hope, too much or too little clarity.


Using more than 20 victim-of-society novels, Goodin draws his conclusions by examining each option the writers have with respect to the character and fate of their protagonists. He suggests that even though imperfect, these novels probably have decreased the amount of injustice in the real world.

Publisher: Carbondale : Southern Illinois University Press, c1985
ISBN: 9780809311736
Call Number: 809.3 G619p
Characteristics: x, 219 p. ; 24 cm


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