Expulsion and the Nineteenth-century Novel: The Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction

This lively and original book examines the notion that the realist novel reinforces existing social structures through its techniques of representation. Michiel Heyns depicts the nineteenth-century literary scapegoat - the ostensible victim of the expulsive pressure of plot - as begetter of an alternative vision, questioning the values apparently upheld by the novel as a whole. Novels, like communities, need scapegoats to rid them of their unexpressed anxieties. This has placed the realist novel under suspicion of collaborating with established authority, by reproducing the very structures it often seeks to criticize. Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel investigates this charge through close and illuminating readings of five realist novels of the nineteenth century: Austen's Mansfield Park, Dickens's Our Mutual Friend, Eliot's Daniel Deronda, Conrad's Lord Jim, and James's The Golden Bowl. Michiel Heyns looks at these works in relation to one another, to their literary and social contexts, and to modern critical thinking. Sceptical of unexamined abstractions, but appreciative of the acumen of much recent criticism, this book places the realist novel in the centre of current debates, while yet respecting the power of literature to anticipate the insights of the its critics.