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Subject Literature

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631207535.1997.x


A distinction drawn by narrative theorists across a range of otherwise diverse schools and cultural-linguistic backgrounds. (Thus, for instance, fabula/suzhet were the terms adopted by R ussian formalism ; histoire/discours in the idiom of French narratologists such as Gérard G enette and the early Roland B arthes .) Though recently developed to a high point of sophisticated treatment, this distinction is basically quite simple and will strike most readers—as it did E.M. Forster in his book Aspects of the Novel —as a matter of intuitive self-evidence. The fictional story can best be defined as the sequence of episodes, actions, or events as they might have occurred if removed from the realm of fictive or novelistic D iscourse and rearranged (so to speak) on a real-time basis of “one thing after another.” That is, story concerns those elements of chronology, causality, temporal sequence, human acts and their subsequent outcome, etc. that we interpret in accordance with our everyday (non-fictive) knowledge and experience of the world. Plot may be defined, in contrast, as the sum total of narrative devices by which a novelist contrives to reorder these basic story-line components and thus create a heightened degree of interest, variety, or suspense. Some works of fiction (for example, novels in the realist or naturalistic mode) will tend to manifest no great discrepancy ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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