Fictions of Discourse: Reading Narrative Theory

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Overview

The fundamental principle upon which contemporary narratology is constructed is that narrative is an essentially divided endeavour, involving the story ('what really happened') and the discourse ('how what happened is presented'). For traditional criticism, the primary task of narrative discourse is essentially to convey the story as transparently as possible. Patrick O'Neill investigates the extent to which narrative discourse also contains the counter-tendency not to tell the story, indeed to subvert the story it tells in foregrounding its own performance.

The systemic implications of this perspective for narrative and for narrative theory are examined within the conceptual framework provided by classical French narratology. O'Neill ultimately attempts both to expand and to problematize the structural model of narrative proposed by this centrally important tradition of narrative theory.

O'Neill describes narrative as functioning in terms of four interacting levels: story, narrative text, narration, and textuality. Using a range of examples from Homer to modern European fiction, he discusses traditional narrative categories such as voice, focalization, character, and setting, and reinscribes them within the contextual space of author and reader to bring out narrative's potential for ambiguity and unreliability. He also discusses the implications of translation for narrative theory.

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Editorial Reviews

Andrew Hadfield

'O'Neill's book is to be recommended as an introduction to the fascinating questions of narrative theory.'

Booknews
O'Neill (German, Queen's U.) investigates the extent to which narrative discourse contains the counter tendency to subvert the story it tells in foregrounding its own performance. He examines the implications of this perspective for narrative and for narrative theory within the conceptual framework provided by classical French narratology, using examples from classics and modern European fiction to discuss traditional narrative categories. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802079480
  • Publisher: University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division
  • Publication date: 6/28/1996
  • Series: Theory / Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 190
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick O’Neill is a professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Queen’s University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 3
1 Theory Games: Narratives and Narratologies 11
2 Narrative Facts and Other Fictions: Story and Discourse 33
3 Discourse Discoursed: The Ventriloquism Effect 58
4 Points of Origin: The Focalization Factor 83
5 Texts and Textuality: The Shapers and the Shaped 107
6 Games Texts Play: Reading between the Narratives 132
Conclusion 155
Notes 161
Bibliography 169
Index 181
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