In the Realm of Shadows
BHE CHANGES that the 16th century brought about in the depiction of Man in European literature culminated in the birth of the novel, which continues to be the most important literary form to this day. Man had become his body, his actions, his gestures, his conversation, his inner life and his environment At all times, from the very beginning of realism, there has been a constant need to preserve a balance between detail and signification. To prevent an accumulation of detail from overwhelming and destroying the sense, and the form of realistic works, several conventions were created.
The first convention is character. Born out of the author's special interest, a character is full of contradictions, lives on many levels and is always viewed by the author with interest, though this is not necessarily sympathetic. The character, once conceived, is.often left to grow by itself, freed from the rigidity of the original idea.
Often, no external detail of the character is given. This happens in Dostoevsky. Yet such characters have a tremendous density. A successful character is the result of a careful weaving of significant idetail into an interesting pattetn.
When a character, through a powerful and significant form, touches the mores of the time, when at the same time it creates images out of the experiences which society is yet to understand and is still able to rise above social reality, it acquires the power of myth. Don Quixote, Nana, Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary are characters of this order.
The second convention is the type. A type is made up of the common traits of many characters. The author has little interest in the inner
Journal of Arts and Ideas 61