The Autobiographical Novel of Co-Consciousness: Goncharov, Woolf, and Joyce

By Galya Diment | Go to book overview

Introduction: Divided They Stand

This book is about uses and expressions of autobiography and duality in three novels: Ivan Goncharov A Common Story, Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse, and James Joyce Ulysses. It is about a distinct fictional genre, an alternative to the traditional autobiographical bildungsroman, which Goncharov, Woolf, and Joyce mastered and perfected. It is also about the "mystery of the conscious" as it makes its presence felt in the three writers' sophisticated and subtle treatment of their inner conflicts through two well-developed, fully dimensional, very "unsupernatural," and perfectly active parts of a fictional "split self."

"The first novelist to use duality consciously in order to reveal the mental struggle of his characters was Goeth e," writes Clare Rosenfield in "The Shadow Within."1 But before Goethe Wilhelm Meister ( 1777) there was Cervantes' Don Quixote ( 1605), which featured a duo of an emotional and idealistic protagonist and his pragmatic and down-to- earth servant and consort. There were also Swift Gulliver's Travels ( 1726) and particularly his "Voyage to the Houhynhnms," a work on which psychoanalytical critics have been feasting for many years. One does not even have to be a Freudian to be tempted to see Gulliver and the Houhynhnms, who "are endowed by nature with general disposition to all virtues," as the ego and the ego-ideal, respectively, and Gulliver and the Yahoos, who "are cunning, malicious, treacherous and revengeful," 2 as the ego and the id. There is likewise plenty of conscious duality in Defoe Moll Flanders ( 1722), whose heroine at different points of her life is poor and rich, a whore and a loyal wife, a criminal and a "penitent." And what is the marriage of Mr. B. and Pamela in Richardson Pamelaor, Virtue Rewarded;

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