Narratology: An Introduction

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

10 A New Approach to the Definition of the Narrative Situations*

F. K. STANZEL

F. K. Stanzel is one of the earliest and most outstanding narratologi­sts in German. His Narrative Situations in the Novel: Tom Jones, Moby Dick, The Ambassadors, Ulysses ( 1971) was published in German as early as 1955. However, the impact of his work on the narratolog­ical scene was comparatively small outside the German-speaking countries before the belated translation of A Theory of Narrative. In Narrative Situations in the Novel Stanzel precedes Wayne Boothand the French structuralists in the analysis and further development of basic tenets of Russian Formalism, such as the opposition 'fabula/ siuzhet'. He also foreshadows Genette differentiation in "'Discours du récit'" ( 1972) between focalizer and narrator, which Stanzel calls 'reflector' and 'narrator'. Other oppositions such as 'scene/summary' and 'telling/showing' are also analysed by Stanzel. In A Theory of Narrative, he attempts to devise a comprehensive typology of all the ways in which a novel might be structured. Starting from the Platonic difference between mimesis and diegesis, Stanzel defines the essence of narrative in terms of the generic concept of 'mediacy', the presence of a mediator, a narrator whose voice is audible whenever a piece of news is conveyed, whenever something is reported. Mediacy is 'the generic characteristic which distinguishes narration from other forms of literary art' (p. 4). Stanzel further differentiates three basic narrative situations: 'the first person narrative situation', in which the mediator is a character and belongs within the world of the other characters; 'the authorial narrative situation', in which the narrator is outside the world of the characters, at a different level, and 'the figural narrative situation', in which, instead of the narrator-as-mediator, we find a 'reflector', defined as 'a character in the novel who thinks, feels and perceives, but does not speak to the reader like a narrator' (p. 5). Stanzel's definition of the 'reflector' -- a term borrowed from

____________________
*
F. K. STANZEL, A Theory of Narrative. Trans. Charlotte Goedsche ( Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. xvi, 46-62. 248-50. First publ. as Theorie des Erzählens ( 1979; rev. 1982).

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