A Companion to Narrative Theory by James Phelan, Peter J. Rabinowitz

By James Phelan, Peter J. Rabinowitz

The 35 unique essays in A better half to Narrative Theory represent the simplest to be had creation to this very important and contested box of humanistic enquiry.

  • Comprises 35 unique essays written through top figures within the field
  • Includes contributions from pioneers within the box comparable to Wayne C. sales space, Seymour Chatman, J. Hillis Miller and Gerald Prince
  • Represents the entire significant serious methods to narrative and investigates and debates the kinfolk among them
  • Considers narratives in numerous disciplines, similar to legislation and medicine
  • Features analyses of numerous media, together with movie, tune, and painting
  • Designed to be of curiosity to experts, but available to readers with little past wisdom of the field

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Genette ([1972] 1980) drew on the same grammatical paradigm in using tense, mood, and voice to characterize the relations between the narrated world, the narrative in terms of which it is presented, and the narrating that enables the presentation. Indeed, the narratologists’ appropriation of ideas from structuralist linguistics not only determined their object and method of inquiry, but also shaped the overall purpose of the narratological enterprise itself. In Jonathan Culler’s phrase, ‘‘linguistics is not hermeneutic’’ (Culler 1975: 31); that is, linguistic analysis seeks to provide not interpretations of particular utterances, but rather a general account of the conditions of possibility for the production and processing of grammatically acceptable forms and sequences.

However, Lubbock made the issue of ‘‘point of view’’ the cornerstone of his account – to an extent not necessarily warranted by James’s own approach (Miller 1972: 1, Booth 1961: 24–5). In doing so, Lubbock appropriated James’s ideas to produce a markedly prescriptive framework. His chief concern was to draw an invidious distinction between showing (‘‘dramatizing’’ events) and telling (‘‘describing’’ or ‘‘picturing’’ events), suggesting that description is inferior to dramatization, picturing to scene-making: ‘‘other things being equal, the more dramatic way is better than the less.

Indeed, Booth’s brilliant account revealed difficulties with the very premise of the telling-versus-showing debate. He characterized showing as an effect promoted by certain deliberately structured kinds of tellings, organized in such a way that narratorial mediation (though inescapably present) remains more or less covert. Booth also suggested that an emphasis on showing over telling has costs as well as benefits, cataloging important rhetorical effects that explicit narratorial commentary can be used to accomplish – for example, relating particulars to norms established elsewhere in the text, heightening the significance of events, or manipulating mood.

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