This thesis identifies problems of narrative distance and sympathy in the realistic novels which Mordecai Richler writes about artist-figures. Lack of distance creates a problem for Richler: he is so close to his protagonists and shares so many of their assumptions that he often fails to make a convincing case for them in terms that scrutinize their vision with any kind of rigor.
Chapter One introduces the rhetorical devices Richler employs in The Acrobats to manipulate our emotional responses towards Andre Bennett. Chapter Two examines the methods Richler uses to create sympathy for Noah Adler in Son Of A Smaller Hero, focussing on the lack of distance between Richler and Noah which is betrayed by Richler's refusal to reveal anything that undermines Noah unless it is defused by rhetorical devices. Chapter Three confirms that Richler is too close to his artist-hero in A Choice of Enemies to deal adequately and intelligently with such topics as expatriatism and The Spanish Civil War. Chapter Four offers a brief allusion to Richler's experiment with black humour as a necessary prelude to a critique of his latest two novels, in which he makes limited gains in solving some of the problems created by a lack of distance.