Daniel Wright Responds to Anna E. Clark

Clark’s illuminating reflection on interiority’s “appositional” status helps me to understand more clearly another equally important dialectical relationship in Farina’s book: that between “form” and “content.” I think that Clark is right to point out that interiority has already been thoroughly problematized, decentered, dethroned in theories of the novel stretching back at least a couple of decades now. But after reading her reflection, I returned to a sentence from Farina’s preface in which he explains what it means to attribute character to prose rather than only to people: “Character applies to prose that mediates its content aslant, prose that is mildly awkward or intriguing, at once appealing and unfamiliar” (xiv). This passage makes me wonder: is interiority truly the antagonist of Farina’s theory, or is it that the attribution of character to prose (as a description of the way the form of prose sometimes mediates its content as if that content were something like the “interiority” or “depth” of the prose itself) requires us to bracket our typical ways of connecting surface to interior, form to content? Farina insists that the each of the everyday phrases that he analyzes “installs a formal discrepancy between representation and referent, people and things, interiority and exteriority” (xiv). It’s perhaps not that interiority itself needs to be done away with, moved to the margins, or even redefined according to Farina, but rather that we need to find new ways of working with these concepts “aslant” if we want to think of prose itself as having “character,” if we want to turn from character as fictional “personages” to the character of language.

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