The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives

The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives

The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives

The Storyworld Accord: Econarratology and Postcolonial Narratives


"Storyworlds," mental models of context and environment within which characters function, is a concept used to describe what happens in narrative. Narratologists agree that the concept of storyworlds best captures the ecology of narrative interpretation by allowing a fuller appreciation of the organization of both space and time, by recognizing reading as a process that encourages readers to compare the world of a text to other possible worlds, and by highlighting the power of narrative to immerse readers in new and unfamiliar environments.

Focusing on the work of writers from Trinidad and Nigeria, such as Sam Selvon and Ben Okri, The Storyworld Accord investigates and compares the storyworlds of nonrealist and postmodern postcolonial texts to show how such narratives grapple with the often-collapsed concerns of subjectivity, representation, and environment, bringing together these narratological and ecocritical concerns via a mode that Erin James calls econarratology. Arguing that postcolonial ecocriticism, like ecocritical studies, has tended to neglect imaginative representations of the environment in postcolonial literatures, James suggests that readings of storyworlds in postcolonial texts helps narrative theorists and ecocritics better consider the ways in which culture, ideologies, and social and environmental issues are articulated in narrative forms and structures, while also helping postcolonial scholars more fully consider the environment alongside issues of political subjectivity and sovereignty.


“Another Place Entirely”

Thursday Next has lost herself in a good book, literally. the heroine of Jasper Fforde’s 2001 novel The Eyre Affair, Next has an odd experience at the Charlotte Brontë Museum when she is a young girl. As she listens to a fellow museum visitor read from the original manuscript of Jane Eyre, she finds herself transported to Jane’s world:

I closed my eyes and a thin chill suddenly filled the air around me.
The tourist’s voice was clear now, as though speaking in the open
air, and when I opened my eyes, the museum had gone. in its place
was a country lane of another place entirely. It was a fine winter’s
evening and the sun was just dipping below the horizon. the air
was perfectly still, the color washed from the scene. Apart from a
few birds that stirred occasionally in the hedge, no movement punc
tuated the starkly beautiful landscape. I shivered as I saw my own
breath in the crisp air, zipped up my jacket and regretted that I had
left my hat and mittens on the peg downstairs. As I looked about I
could see that I was not alone. Barely ten feet away a young wom
an, dressed in a cloak and bonnet, was sitting on a stile watching
the moon that had just risen behind us. (66)

Interpreting the words of Brontë’s narrative as she hears them, Next finds herself inhabiting Jane and Rochester’s world. She marvels at Jane’s stoic posture and plain yet beautiful face before spotting Rochester’s dog, Pilot, and witnessing the future lovers’ first meeting near the country lane stile. As she hears a distant voice calling her name, the sky darkens, the air warms, the lane evaporates, and Next finds herself back in the museum. She dutifully abides by her aunt Polly’s warning to keep up with the museum tour and laments the end of the book’s magic.

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