The Narrative Turn in Fiction and Theory: The Crisis and by H. Meretoja

By H. Meretoja

The Narrative flip in Fiction and idea explores the philosophical and ancient underpinnings of the postwar drawback and go back of storytelling and indicates their relevance for the continuing debate at the value of narrative for human life.

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Extra info for The Narrative Turn in Fiction and Theory: The Crisis and Return of Storytelling from Robbe-Grillet to Tournier

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As Sturgess (1992: 23) asserts, to narrate generally entails committing oneself to a clearly defined point of view, usually signalled by the use of either the first- or the third-person singular. Dans le labyrinthe is deliberately ambiguous on the issue of narrative perspective: it begins and ends in the first-person singular, but the rest of the narrative is anonymous third-person narration, with the exception of the one sentence uttered by the doctor. However, as Culler (1994: 194, 200) maintains, readers tend to feel uneasy with texts that are not readily recognizable as ‘some Robbe-Grillet’s Antinarrative Aesthetics 35 speaker’s account of a situation, real or imagined’, so they tend to ‘naturalize’ such texts by interpreting them as representations of someone’s experiences; in principle, it is possible to ‘explain’ the instabilities and incoherencies of any text ‘by assuming that it is the speech of a delirious narrator’.

While the new formalist, antinarrative aesthetics, taking shape in the 1950s, was directed against nineteenth-century realism, underlying the nouveau roman’s exploration of non-linear, fragmented form is a thrust towards a ‘new realism’, aspiring to capture a new, fundamentally Introduction 15 non-narrative experience of reality. In this project, the nouveau roman both drew on and challenged phenomenology, the most influential intellectual movement from the interwar years to the late 1950s. Husserl’s and Heidegger’s phenomenology played a crucial part in the constellation of intellectual developments that rejected the Cartesian model of substantial subjectivity, the notion of consciousness as a stable, self-identical substratum.

Outside it is snowing’ (L: 8, ‘épais rideaux rouges, faits d’un tissu lourd, velouté. Dehors il neige’, DL: 11). Conversely, as the soldier gazes at the windows of the apartment building, the narration returns to the ‘narrator’s room’ (for example L: 40, DL: 47). Interpretations begin to diverge when it comes to the relation between these two narrative levels or spaces. It is obvious that the ‘narrator’s room’ and the ‘soldier’s story’ are not unconnected: the room and its objects seem to provide the elements on which the soldier’s story is construed.

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