11 Literary Narrative FictionStory, Plot, Narrative Voice
Narratives Personal, political, historical, legal, medical narratives: narratives power to capture certain truths and experiences in special ways - unlike other modes of explanation and analysis such as statistics, descriptions, summaries, or reasoning via conceptual abstractions
The spectrum of fictionfact fiction truth?
Realism vs romance: a matter of perception vs a matter of vision2 principal ways fiction can be related to life
Literary narrative fictionliterature: art of languagekinds of Iiterature: poetry, drama, narrative fictionprose: from Latin prosa or proversa oratio=straightforward discourseM. Jourdain: I've been speaking in PROSE all along! Moliere (1622-1673), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Literary conventionsan agreement between artist and audience as tothe significance of features appearing in a work of art knowledge of conventions = literary competence narrative: tells of real or imagined events; tells a story fiction: an imagined creation in verse/prose/drama story: (imagined) events or happenings, involving a conflict plot: arrangement of action structure
Literary, narrative, fictional:
distinct features, do not presuppose each other
Where do we place lyric poetry?
Marie-Laure Ryan, Possible Worlds, Artificial Intelligence, and Narrative Theory. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1991
Literary, narrative, fictional:
examplesliterarynarrativefictional+++Lit. narr. fict.++-+-++---++-+---+---Nonlit. nonnarr. nonfiction
Books on FictionBooth, Wayne: The Rhetoric of Fiction. Second edition. London: Penguin, 1991 (1983)
Lodge, David: The Art of Fiction. London: Penguin, 1992
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith: Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics. London and New York: Methuen, 1983
Building blocks of narrativetypes of character (roles)types of eventtypes of lack and restoration types of getting from beginning to end (How do you know it is the end of the story?)types of settingtypes of narrator
Characterscharacterization: flat vs round characters E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel (1927)flat: easily recognized, easily remembered but a failure to realize the complexities of the ordinary human mindround: more highly organized
Flat characters, according to ForsterFlat characters were called humours in the seventeenth century, and are sometimes called types, and sometimes caricatures. In their purest form, they are constructed round a single idea or quality: when there is more than one factor in them, we get the beginning of the curve towards the round. The really flat character can be expressed in one sentence such as I never will desert Mr. Micawber.
Round charactes,according to ForsterThe test of a round character is whether it is capable of surprising in a convincing way. If it never surprises, it is flat. If it does not convince, it is a flat pretending to be round. It has the incalculability of life about itlife within the pages of a book. And by using it sometimes alone, more often in combination with the other kind, the novelist harmonizes the human race with the other aspects of his work.
vs stereotypesstereotypes: characters based on conscious or unconscious cultural assumptions that sex, age, ethnic or national identification, occupation, marital status and so on, are predictably accompanied by certain character traits, actions, even values
Forster vs Aristotle CHARACTER, says Aristotle, gives us qualities, but it is in actionswhat we dothat we are happy or the reverse. We have already decided that Aristotle is wrong and now we must face the consequences of disagreeing with him. All human happiness and misery, says Aristotle, take the form of action. We know better. We believe that happiness and misery exist in the secret life,
Forster vs Aristotle, cont. which each of us leads privately and to which (in his characters) the novelist has access. And by the secret life we mean the life for which there is no external evidence, not, as is vulgarly supposed, that which is revealed by a chance word or a sigh. A chance word or sigh are just as much evidence as a speech or a murder: the life they reveal ceases to be secret and enters the realm of action.
Story: Arrangement of eventswith a particular kind of beginning and ending orientation, closure, codausually told for a purposetypically about change: situation A changes to situation Black leads to restoration
Plot: Structurestructure: connecting elements, repetition, parallelismselection, connection, ordering of information leading to a recognitionmoving to illuminate the beginning by the ending
Setting The space where the narrative takes place: rural setting, urban setting, nature scenes, country houses etc.
Settings often echo or emphasize other features: Emily Bront, Wuthering Heights (1847) Yorkshire moors Wuthering Heights Thrushcross Grange EarnshawsLintons harsh, roughwarm, soft, civilised
Space and TimeJames Joyce, Ulyesses (1922)Dublin, 16 June 1904Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)London, a single day in June, after WWI
Narrator, narrationnarrator: one who tells a story within/outside the space and time of storyWho tells the story? To whom? Why? How? narration: narrative perspective: point of viewauthor author's persona (mask) narrator (Samuel Clemens vs Mark Twain)
Narrator, narration, narrativeaccount of a sequence of connected events told by a narratorwhat happened vs how it is told 'story' 'narration' Narration - rearranges the order of eventse.g., flashback: historical time vs narrated order - sets up relations between events e.g., cause and effect
Narrative perspectiveviewing aspect: focus like a movie camera:choosing, framing, emphasizing, distorting limited/unlimited (omniscient narrator) stand back: dramatic focus verbal aspect: voice
Point of viewvisual perspectiveideological frameworkbasic types of narration: 1st person (I-narration) 3rd person (they-narration) e.g., 'window' on text: seems objective internal vs external restricted knowledge vs unrestricted knowledge(seemed, looked as if)texts with instability of point of view: watch out for WHO experiences and WHAT is experienced
Focalizationexternal focalization: unidentified narratorcharacter focalization: a character experiencesfocalizer: the one who is lookingfocalized: what is being focussed onexpression and construction of types of consciousness and self-consciousness Shifting narrative viewpoints, several narrators:Emily Bront, Wuthering Heights (1847)
Narratologythe study of narrative in literatureEarly examples in the 20th century: Vladimir Propp (Russian Formalist)Morphology of the Folktale (1928)Claude Lvi-Strauss (Structuralist)Anthropologie Structurale (1958) (myths)Grard Genette, Narrative discourse (1972)
Grard Genettes systemBased on the distinction between story and plot (fabula and syuzhet in Russian formalism)- rcit (the chronological order of events in a text or narrative)- histoire (the sequence in which events actually occur)- narration (the act of narrating) (Grard Genette, Narrative Discourse, 1972)
Genettes systemnarrative: the result of the interaction of its component levels3 basic kinds of narrator:- narrator is absent from his own narrative((heterodiegetic narrator)) - narrator is inside his narrative (1st person) ((homodiegetic narrator)) - narrator is inside his narrative and also main character ((autodiegetic narrator))
Roland Barthes (1915-1980)France: from structuralism to poststructuralismattempt to describe narrative as a formal system based on the model of a grammarThe death of the Author (essay from 1967)(against the concept of the author as a way of forcing a meaning on to a text)S/Z (1970) a critical reading of Balzacs Sarrasinetext open to interpretation
TaskWhat can you notice about the following excerpts? (Can you guess the period, the author, the work?)How is the weather defining the beginning of the book in Chapter 1?What do we find out about the narrator from the way Mrs Fairfax is introduced in Ch 12?How is the introduction of the people in Moor house different in Ch 30?Do you notice anything special about the way the last chapter, Ch 38 begins?
Chapter 1 There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs Reed, when there was no company, dined early), the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.(Penguin Classics edition, p 39)
Chapter 12The promise of a smooth career, which my first calm introduction to Thornfield Hall seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longer acquaintance with the place and its inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned out to be what she appeared, a placid-tempered, kind-natured woman, of competent education and average intelligence. My pupil was a lovely child; who had been spoilt and indulged (140)
Chapter 30The more I knew of the inmates of Moor House, the better I liked them. In a few days I have so far recovered my health that I could sit up all day, and walk out sometimes. I could join with Diana and Mary in all their occupations, converse with them as much as they