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Misfit FormsPaths Not Taken by the British Novel$
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Lorri G. Nandrea

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823263431

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823263431.001.0001

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Sense in the Middle

Sense in the Middle

Teleological vs. Cumulative Plotting

Chapter:
(p.111) 3. Sense in the Middle
Source:
Misfit Forms
Author(s):

Lorri G. Nandrea

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823263431.003.0003

This chapter argues that a tendency to equate “plot,” per se, with the teleological plot aimed at closure has obscured the specific capacities of alternative structures. An analogy to periodic and cumulative sentence structures helps clarify the architectural and phenomenological contrasts between a teleological or “periodic” plot and a “cumulative” plot. Where the former emphasizes the end as a redemptive locus of meaning, the latter emphasizes the independent value of the middle or process, which may activate interest (as defined by Sylvan Tompkins) rather than desire or suspense. Readings of Robinson Crusoe and Mary Barton provide examples of cumulative structures and their special capacity to represent work (and, hence, the working class). In closing, the chapter briefly explores the relationship between class, capitalism, and teleological patterns in the context of the history of the novel.

Keywords:   Plot, Closure, Teleological, Periodic, Cumulative, Sentence structures, Robinson Crusoe, Mary Barton, Representation of work, Working class

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