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Fictions of Discourse

Fictions of Discourse: Reading Narrative Theory

Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 190
  • Book Info
    Fictions of Discourse
    Book Description:

    O?Neill investigates the extent to which narrative discourse subverts the story it tells in foregrounding its own performance.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7486-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    This book is about narrative, specifically literary narrative; it is about narratology, that branch of contemporary narrative theory focusing specifically on the analysis of narrative structure; and it is about the all-encompassing play of contextual and intertextual factors that simultaneously allow and constrain us to behave the way we do when we read (or write) either narrative (as described by narratology) or narratology (which is itself a form of narrative). And throughout, cutting across all three of these areas of investigation, it is about what we may call the Zeno Principle, namely the principle that narrative as a discursive system...

  5. 1 Theory Games: Narratives and Narratologies
    (pp. 11-32)

    ʹThe narratives of the world are numberless,ʹ Roland Barthes begins a now famous and much quoted essay on narrative and narrative theory, his ʹIntroduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative,ʹ first published (in French) in 1966. ʹNarrative is present in myth, legend, fable, tale, novella, epic, history, tragedy, drama, comedy, mime, painting ..., stained glass windows, cinema, comics, news items, conversationʹ (1977: 79). One might expand this already generous listing to include dreams and daydreams, jokes and advertising, psychoanalytical sessions and weather reports, professional résumés and death-bed confessions. Narratives may be variously verbal or non-verbal, true or untrue, realistic or...

  6. 2 Narrative Facts and Other Fictions: Story and Discourse
    (pp. 33-57)

    One of the most obvious tasks of narrative discourse is clearly to select and arrange the various events and participants constituting the story it sets out to tell. Initially this might well seem to be a relatively straightforward affair, since stories essentially amount to the doings of particularactorsinvolved in variouseventsat particulartimesand in particularplaces, and narrative discourse is thus merely a matter of saying who did what, and when, where, and why they did it. Different types of narrative may well privilege one or another of these elements, but most ordinary readers (or listeners...

  7. 3 Discourse Discoursed: The Ventriloquism Effect
    (pp. 58-82)

    The question as to whose voice we ʹhearʹ telling us the story when we read a novel might initially seem to be so easy to answer as to preclude any further discussion. Simple questions, however, cannot always be simply answered, and it can now be admitted that our discussion in the last chapter of characters and their doings in time and space is very seriously deficient in one major aspect, since it provisionally operates on the implicit assumption that everything presented in the narrative text can be taken entirely at face value as the presentation of an ideally objective, unbiased,...

  8. 4 Points of Origin: The Focalization Factor
    (pp. 83-106)

    The subversive potential of what we have been calling the ventriloquism effect, involving the inherent dividedness of the narrative voice, is closely paralleled by what we may now call the focalization factor, involving the inherent dividedness of the narrativevisionwe, as readers, associate with that voice. Focalization, indeed, as Mieke Bal writes, is ʹthe most important, most penetrating, and most subtle means of manipulationʹ available to the narrative text, whether literary or otherwise (1985: 116). Yet both the intensive study of focalization in the narrower sense and even the expression itself were very late arrivals on the narratological scene.¹...

  9. 5 Texts and Textuality: The Shapers and the Shaped
    (pp. 107-131)

    The model of narrative structure built up in the preceding chapters involves certain implications that can now be examined more closely. In this chapter we shall therefore turn first to some of the implications of the necessarilyembeddedstatus of narrative levels and discuss the degree to which these nested levels also constitute nested ʹnarrative worlds,ʹ each deconstructively relativized by its ʹparentʹ world embodied on and by the next higher narrative level. We shall then examine the usefulness of expanding the consciously more limited narratological concept of the text as product by including within the general narratological paradigm as employed...

  10. 6 Games Texts Play: Reading between the Narratives
    (pp. 132-154)

    One particularly interesting area where the story of the literary text is taken up and reshaped by readers who also function simultaneously and very overtly as writers is that of literary translation. In our final chapter we shall therefore begin by looking at some everyday (but none the less fascinating) questions concerning the implications of translation, continue by comparing three quite different theoretical models of translation, and conclude by sketching the beginnings of an intertextual experiment that by definition can never be completed.

    Roman Jakobson (1959) distinguishes three types of translation:interlingual, or translation ʹproper,ʹ namely between natural languages;intralingual,...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 155-160)

    Narrative, as portrayed by narratology, itself also a narrative, is in the end essentially an ironic and thus a ludic genre, an affair of message and metalinguistic commentary with each message and each commentary being relativized by the next higher levels in the narrative hierarchy. At the level of story, as I have written elsewhere (OʹNeill 1990: 101–2), all is serious, all is real: ʹThis is so.ʹ At the level of discourse the narrator essentially says, ʹThis isnotso,ʹ for by his or her employment of all the tricks of the narrative trade, flashbacks and flashforwards, permanent manipulation...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 161-168)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 169-180)
  14. Index
    (pp. 181-188)