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The critique of the common theory of narrative fiction in narratology: Pursuing difference
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1267-0031
2019 (English)In: Frontiers of Narrative Studies, ISSN 2509-4882, Vol. 5, no 1, p. 17-34Article in journal (Other academic) Published
Abstract [en]

This article aims to characterize a commonly misunderstood and neglected critique of narratology and insists that the critique could advance the narratological discussions if taken more seriously. I describe the notions of three individual critics and one group of critics and their suggested alternatives to what they hold to be the dominating description of narrative fiction in narratology. In turn, I take up Sylvie Patron’s linguistic approach, Lars-Åke Skalin’s aesthetic approach, and Richard Walsh’s pragmatic approach, as well as unnatural narratology (which is less radical), and suggest that they have a Difference approach to narrative fiction. The critique is contrasted with what I refer to as a Sameness approach, guiding the dominating description of narrative fiction in narratology. The Sameness approach relates novels and short stories to a notion of a default mode of “narrative” which is based on situated speech about something that has happened. This is, according to the critics, a mistake. The main thrust of the critics, although with some exceptions, is instead that narrative fiction needs to be approached as sui generis in order to be described effectively. Yet how this should be done is still open for debate.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2019. Vol. 5, no 1, p. 17-34
Keywords [en]
Difference approach, Sylvie Patron, Lars-Åke Skalin, unnatural narratology, Richard Walsh
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-75975DOI: 10.1515/fns-2019-0003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-75975DiVA, id: diva2:1346911
Available from: 2019-08-29 Created: 2019-08-29 Last updated: 2019-10-10Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Difference Approach to Narrative Fiction: A Recurring Critique of Narratology and Its Implications for the Study of Novels and Short Stories
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Difference Approach to Narrative Fiction: A Recurring Critique of Narratology and Its Implications for the Study of Novels and Short Stories
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to advance the critical examination of narratology, or the study of storytelling. I analyze four versions of a critique of the dominant theory of narrative fiction in narratology and discuss this critique’s methodological implications. The critics, Sylvie Patron, Lars-Åke Skalin, Richard Walsh, and the proponents of unnatural narratology have, I suggest, similar understandings of narratology’s handling of works like novels and short stories as well as similar alternative approaches. I situate the critique among relevant theories of fiction and salient aspects of narratology, and conclude that the most radical critics have a difference approach to narrative fiction. This means treating this literary practice as following another rule system for creating meaning than other kinds of storytelling. These critics seem to base their reasoning on their readerly intuitions about how novels and short stories function; yet their approach also lends itself to, for instance, discussions on how such works afford life visions or worldviews. In contrast to this approach, I describe narratology, in the critics’ view, as having a sameness approach that treats narrative fiction as a subtype of “narrative” in the sense of the communication of events by a narrator.

The three opening articles of the thesis comprise a metadiscussion of the critique. I here describe, in part with Greger Andersson, the critics’ ideas, characterize the critique as a whole, and speculate about why it has had no apparent effect on narratology. The two latter articles utilize the difference approach in analyses of Angela Carter’s “The Loves of Lady Purple” and Sara Stridsberg’s Drömfakulteten (The Faculty of Dreams) while discussing narratological concepts and issues. Future studies might continue this discussion or inquire further about, for example, the relations between different narrative practices or what role different intuitions about narrative fiction play in descriptions and analyses.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro University, 2019. p. 129
Series
Örebro Studies in Literary History and Criticism, ISSN 1650-5840 ; 13
Keywords
Angela Carter, narrative fiction, narrative theory, narratology, Sylvie Patron, Lars-Åke Skalin, Sara Stridsberg, unnatural narratology, Richard Walsh
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-75851 (URN)978-91-7529-297-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-10-18, Örebro universitet, Forumhuset, Hörsal F, Fakultetsgatan 1, Örebro, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-08-23 Created: 2019-08-23 Last updated: 2019-10-10Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
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  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
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  • de-DE
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  • en-US
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
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  • text
  • asciidoc
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