Robert L. Belknap, Plots

Robert L. Belknap, Plots (Columbia University Press, 2016)





Introduction, Robin Feuer Miller


Part I. Literary Plots Deserve Still More Study

1. Plots Arrange Literary Experience

2. Plot Summaries Need More Serious Study

3. The Fabula Arranges the Events in the World the Characters Inhabit; the Siuzhet Arranges the Events in the World the Reader Encounters in the Text

4. Authors Can Relate One Incident to Another Only Chronologically, Spatially, Causally, Associatively, or Narratively

5. Plots Are Fractal, Formed from Incidents That Are Formed from Smaller, Similarly Shaped Incidents

6. The Best Authorities Consider Plots and Incidents to Be Tripartite, with a Situation, a Need, and an Action

7. But Siuzhets and the Incidents That Form Them Have Two Parts: An Expectation and Its Fulfillment or Frustration


Part II. The Plot of King Lear Operates Purposefully But Also Reflects the Creative Process

8. For Integrity of Impact, Stages, Actors, and the Audience Need a Unity of Action

9. Shakespeare Replaced the Greek Unity of Action with a New Thematic Unity Based on Parallelism

10. Shakespeare Uses Conflict, the Righting of Wrongs, the Healing of an Inruption or Disruption, and Other Standard Plotting Devices, But His Recognition Scenes Move Us Most

11. Shakespeare Prepares for His Recognition Scenes with Elaborate Lies

12. In King Lear, Shakespeare Uses Elaborated Lies to Psychologize the Gloucester Subplot

13. Tolstoy and Tate Preferred the Comforting Plots of Lear's Sources to Shakespeare's, But Shakespeare Had Considered That Variant and Rejected It


Part III. The Plot of Crime and Punishment Draws Rhetorical and Moral Power from the Nature of Novel Plots and from the European and Russian Tradition Dostoevsky Inherited and Developed

14. European Novelists Elaborated or Assembled Incidents into Plots Long Before Critics Recognized the Sophistication of the New Genre in Plotting Such Subgenres as the Letter Novel and the Detective Novel

15. Dostoevsky Shaped and Was Shaped by the Russian Version of the Nineteenth-Century Novel

16. In Reinventing the Psychological Plot, Dostoevsky Challenged the Current Literary Leaders

17. The Siuzhet of Part I of Crime and Punishment Programs the Reader to Read the Rest and to Participate Actively in a Vicious Muder

18. The One-Sidedness of Desire and Violence in Crime and Punishment Is More Peculiar to Dostoevsky's Plotting Than Dostoevshchina

19. Critics Often Attack Crime and Punishment for a Rhetoric That Exploits Causality in Ways They Misunderstand

20. The Epilogue of Crime and Punishment Crystallizes Its Ideological Plot

21. The Plots of Novels Teach Novelistic Justice, Not Poetic Justice




Works by Robert Belknap


Robert L. Belknap, 1929-2014 | Columbia | Harriman Institute


Plots (Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lectures)

Plots (Leonard Hastings Schoff Memorial Lectures)