Narratology: An Introduction

By Susana Onega ; Jose Angel Garcia Landa | Go to book overview

greatest pains to conjure away the coding of the narrative situation: [ . . . ] epistolary novels, supposedly rediscovered manuscripts, author who met the narrator, films which begin the story before the credits. The reluctance to declare its codes characterizes bourgeois society and the mass culture issuing from it: both demand signs which do not look like signs. Yet this is only, so to speak, a structural epiphenomenon: however familiar, however casual may today be the act of opening a novel or a newspaper or of turning on the television, nothing can prevent that humble act from installing in us, all at once and in its entirety, the narrative code we are going to need. Hence the narrational level has an ambiguous role: contiguous to the narrative situation (and sometimes even including it), it gives on to the world in which the narrative is undone (consumed), while at the same time, capping the preceding levels, it closes the narrative, constitutes it definitively as utterance of a language [langue] which provides for and bears along its own metalanguage. [ . . . ]


Notes
1.
But not imperative: see CLAUDE BREMOND, "'La logique des possibles narratifs'", Communications 8 ( 1966).
2.
It goes without saying, as Jakobson has noted, that between the sentence and what lies beyond the sentence there are transitions; co-ordination, for instance, can work over the limit of the sentence.
3.
See especially: ÉMILE BENVENISTE, Problèmes de linguistique générale ( Paris: 1966) [ Problems of General Linguistics ( Coral Gables, Fla.: 1971)], Chapter 10; Z. S. HARRIS , "'Discourse Analysis'", Language 28 ( 1952): 18-23, 474-94; N. RUWET, "'Analyse structurale d'un poème français'", Linguistics 3 ( 1964): 62-83.
4.
The levels of integration were postulated by the Prague School (vid. J. VACHEK, A Prague School Reader in Linguistics ( Bloomington, Ind.: 1964), p. 468) and have been adopted since by many linguists. It is Benveniste who, in my opinion, has given the most illuminating analysis in this respect; Problèmes, Chapter 10.
5.
'In somewhat vague terms, a level may be considered as a system of symbols, rules, and so on, to be used for representing utterances', E. BACH, An Introduction to Transformational Grammars ( New York: 1964), p. 57.
6.
The third part of rhetoric, inventio, did not concern language -- it had to do with res, not with verba.
7.
CLAUDE LÉVI-STRAUSS, Anthropologie structurale ( Paris: 1958), p. 233 [ Structural Anthropology ( New York and London: 1963), p. 211].
8.
See T. TODOROV, "'Les catégories du récit littéraire'", Communications 8 ( 1966). [ Todorov work on narrative is now most easily accessible in two books, Littérature et Signification ( Paris: 1967); Poétique de la prose ( Paris: 1972). For a short account in English, see "'Structural analysis of narrative'", Novel I/ 3 ( 1969): 70-6.]

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