in a way more or less subtle and original. Just as we study the narrator
to evaluate the economy, the intentions, and the success of a
narrative, so too we should examine the narratee in order to
understand further and/or differently its mechanisms and
[. . . ] In the final analysis, the study of the narratee can lead us to
a better understanding not only of the narrative genre but of all acts
See, for example, HENRY JAMES, The Art of Fiction and Other Essays, ed.
( New York: Oxford University Press, 1948); NORMAN FRIEDMAN, "'Point of View in Fiction: The Development of a Critical Concept,'" PMLA 70
( December 1955): 1160-84; WAYNE C. BOOTH, The Rhetoric of Fiction ( Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961); TZVETAN TODOROV, "'Poétique'" in
et al., Qu'est-ce que le structuralisme? ( Paris: Seuil, 1968), pp. 97-166;
and GARARD GENETTE, Figures III ( Paris: Seuil, 1972).
See, among others, WALKER GIBSON, "'Authors, Speakers, Readers, and Mock
Readers,'" College English 11 ( February 1950): 265-9 (chap. 9 in this volume); ROLAND BARTHES, "'Introduction A l'analyse structurale des récits,'" Communications 8 ( 1966): 18-19; TODOROV, "'Les Categories du Récit
Littéraire,'" Communications 8 ( 1966): 146-7; GERALD PRINCE, "'Notes Towards a
Characterisation of Fictional Narratees,'" Genre 4 ( March 1971): 100-5; and GENETTE, Figures III, pp. 265-7.
For convenience's sake, we speak (and will speak often) of readers. It is obvious
that a narratee should not be mistaken for a listener -- real, virtual, or ideal.
This description of the linguistic capabilities of the zero-degree narratee
nonetheless raises many problems. Thus, it is not always easy to determine
the meaning(s) (dénotation[s]) of a given term and it becomes necessary to fix
in time the language (langue) known to the narratee, a task that is sometimes
difficult when working from the text itself. In addition, the narrator can
manipulate a language in a personal way. Confronted by certain
idiosyncrasies that are not easy to situate in relation to the text, do we say that
the narratee experiences them as exaggerations, as errors, or on the contrary
do they seem perfectly normal to him? Because of these difficulties and many
others as well, the description of the narratee and his language cannot always
be exact. It is, nevertheless, to a large extent reproducible.
We use these terms as they are used in modern logic.
See in this regard, PRINCE A Grammar of Stories: An Introduction ( The Hague: Mouton, 1973). A formal description of the rules followed by all narratives
can be found in this work.
On verisimilitude, see the excellent issue 11 of Communications ( 1968).
BARTHES, S/Z ( Paris: Seuil, 1970), pp. 27-8.
We should undoubtedly distinguish the 'virtual' narratee from the 'real'
narratee in a more systematic manner. But this distinction would perhaps
not be very helpful.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Narratology:An Introduction.
Contributors: Susana Onega - Editor, Jose Angel Garcia Landa - Editor.
Place of publication: London.
Publication year: 1996.
Page number: 201.
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