Characters beheaded with mottoes
in Dissolute characters
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The revelation of character has been presented as the supreme achievement of the novelist's art, its depth and complexity surpassing even the remarkable personalities of the ordinary world. For Victorians, names were imposed by inheritance or marriage, and the coercive implications in relation to a sense of character may be noted. The distinctive characteristics of Sheridan Le Fanu's fictional use of names are its lack of system combined with its pervasive reduplication: both constitute forms of coercion. The biblical quotation or motto is only one instance of Le Fanu's incorporation of brief or fragmentary textual matter into the narrative of novel or story. The contribution of names to characterisation is particularly tantalising in Le Fanu's treatment of women. Le Fanu's anxious inquiry into questions of historical responsibility, character construction and sexuality inflicted its own damage on the novelist.

Dissolute characters

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

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