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Romankonst och berättarteori: en kritisk diskussion med utgångspunkt i Göran Tunströms författarskap
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences.
2009 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
The Art of the novel and narrative theory : a critical discussion based on the writings of Göran Tunström (English)
Abstract [en]

The thesis challenges the notion that the novel should be considered as a kind of narrative in the narratological sense of the word. It argues that it is by no means self-evident to define the novel as a narrative if one by narrative means someone telling someone else that something happened. Rather it suggests that reading a novel as information about something (an event or chain of events), that is, as if someone were stating something, will inevitably raise questions about for example relevance. The reader may for instance ask: What is the very subject of the told and what purpose do all those presented details serve? There are lots of informative language-games, yet the reader must have difficulties in seeing how all this stuff would comply with any of them. The study suggests that in order to be able to incorporate the novel into a general theory of narrative, narratology (structuralist as well as poststructuralist) has been compelled to overlook the inconsistencies generated by the idea that the novel is an imitation of a natural narrative genre, or put it in another way, to overlook the novel’s specific literary properties.

The thesis argues that rather than being subsumed within a general theory, works of narrative fiction (novels and short stories) should be considered as aesthetic objects. It describes narrative fiction as an aesthetic composition built out of patterns referred to by the term “motifs”, borrowed from the Russian formalists. Motifs may be constructed of narrative structures; yet, in the novel considered as a whole, as a work, such structures may very well go together with other equally important ones to build up an all-embracing aesthetic arrangement not identical with a narrative pattern.

Turning to the novels of Göran Tunström the study aims at illustrating some of the peculiarities that may arise as a result of equating narrative fiction with natural narrative or everyday storytelling. It discusses the notion of the fictive narrator and questions the assumption, based on logical and epistemological arguments, that literary narratives have to be told by a fictive agent, i.e. a narrator. It suggests that if we think of narrative fiction as an aesthetic composition, not taken as equivalent to a narrative composition, there is no need for a narrator because the presented semantic content is not understood as a narrative in the narratological sense. Furthermore, the idea that novels should be read as information about something will lead to the assumption that non-narrative elements such as descriptions and elements of essay should be considered as subordinate to narrative structures. Discussing Tunström’s use of literary descriptions the thesis illustrates that the idea advocated by narratological theory that narrative structures should be considered more important than or superior to non-narrative ones simply cannot be sustained. Tunström’s intention as artist is not to present an action but an aesthetic vision. And to that purpose he uses all kinds of structures, images in the form of picture or ekphrasis, lyrical parts, elements of essay, and, of course, also narrative.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Örebro: Örebro universitet , 2009. , 169 p.
Series
Örebro Studies in Literary History and Criticism, ISSN 1650-5840 ; 9
Keyword [en]
novel theory, aesthetics, narratoloy, Göran Tunström, novel, description, ekphrasis, vioce, narrator, narrative theory, unreliable narrator, text-type
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-7490ISBN: 978-91-7668-684-3 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-7490DiVA: diva2:240438
Public defence
2009-10-23, Forumhuset, BIO, Örebro universitet, Örebro, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2009-09-28 Created: 2009-07-19 Last updated: 2011-05-03Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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