What Stories Are: Narrative Theory and Interpretation by Thomas M. Leitch
A sophisticated and closely reasoned essay on narrative theory which begins by attacking the customary distinction between "story" (narrated events) and "discourse" (narrating medium), What Stories Are suggests an alternative definition of narrative based on its discursive properties, and explores the implications of that definition for the traditional categories of narrative theory (plot, character, and so on). This book combines two main tendencies in the study of narrative over the last twenty years, one toward the building of bigger and better structural systems, the other toward the production of ever finer and more intricate interpretations of particular texts. In accurately and fairmindedly presenting previous and alternative theories of narrative, the author attains a striking degree of originality, redefining the subject in new and significant ways.
What Stories Are is outstanding for the logic and integrity of its intellectual design and for the catholicity of its interests and tastes. Leitch is impressively at home in the literature he treats, and his formulation of the constitutive tension in narrative between teleological and discursive imperatives freshly articulates it and gives it a welcome and unwonted centrality.