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Narrative Technique


Subject Literature » Literary Theory
Philosophy » Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

Key-Topics narrative, novel and novella

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161848.2011.x


Narrative technique is the umbrella term for the multiple devices of storytelling. In the terms of narratology's distinction between story and discourse or the what and the how of narrative, narrative technique is a rough synonym for discourse. Narrative technique is so central to our understanding of storytelling that, throughout history, theorists of narrative in general (e.g., Aristotle in the Poetics , ca. 335 bce ) or the novel in particular (e.g., Henry Fielding in his Preface to Joseph Andrews , 1742) invariably comment on it. But ever since Henry James wrote his Prefaces to the New York edition of his novels (1909–10), theorists have paid increasing attention to the subject, as they have proposed and debated various ways of achieving a more adequate understanding of its workings. Here I will focus on four key concepts: transmission, temporality, vision, and voice. Seymour Chatman (1978) , building on the work of Wayne C. Booth (1983) , Gerald Prince, and Gérard Genette (1972, 1980) , among others, developed an influential model of communication that traces transmission from author to reader through the textual intermediaries of the implied author, narrator, narratee, and implied reader (see diagram in narration ). “Implied author” is Booth's term for the version of herself that the real author constructs through her choices in writing the narrative; the “narrator” ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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