PUZZLES AND CONUNDRUMS IN PRUS' 'THE DOLL' (Duze i male zagadki 'Lalki')
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Under this heading the author discusses a host of literary puzzles and conundrums to be found in Boleslaw Prus' 'The Doll', ie. information withheld or passed over, places of indeterminacy, moot points, scenes in which the characters' behaviour, experiences and utterances appear disconcertingly ambivalent or ambiguous, as well as the problem of varying degrees of reliability of the accounts and observations stemming from narrative intermediaries. All those 'uncertainties' used to be treated as flaws, though, it was always stressed, excusable flaws. They were either blamed on the heavy-handed censorship the writer had to face or treated as minor, insignificant details. Nowadays our reading of 'The Doll' seems to be different. The modern reader will certainly not be put off by the occasionally blurred outlines of Prus' fictional world or the uncertainty bedevilling all attempts to give it a clear and fixed contour. Nor will he be annoyed by the Protean changeability of Prus' characters or the repeated shifts from illusion and to disenchantment in his novel. Today, both the well-read general reader and the dedicated student of literature may be expected to savour all those puzzles and treat them as early signs of a process of transition that the novel would undergo in the following decades.
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