Narrative as Theme: Studies in French Fiction


"Narrative as Theme is a brilliant critical performance, admirably lucid and rich in substance."-Ross Chambers, University of Michigan. "The questions raised by Prince's book are at the heart of contemorary critical thought: what do narratives tell the reader about the ways they construct themselves as stories about a certain 'reality'? What do they tell us about their own truth-value and the techniques they use to convey it? What do they tell us about the hermeneutics of either telling or reading a story?"-Ora Avni, Yale University.In literature the very act of narration often constitutes a theme: everyone is familiar with narration that interrupts the story, that provides an ironic gloss on the action, that exposes the narrator, that serves to deceive. In Narrative as Theme Gerald Prince offers the first book-length study of the theme of narrative and of the relationship between narrative and truth in fiction.In the first part, theoretical in nature, Prince considers the notion of theme as well as the theme of narrative itself, surveys the research that has come out of that notion, and isolates starting points for the investigation of narrative as theme. Of particular interest to narratologists will be his discussion of the "disnarrated," all those passages of a text that consider what did not or does not happen but oculd have. He shows how the disnarrated is an important guide to reading the theme of narrative. The second part focuses on seven French novel: Mme de Lafayette's La Princesse de Cl¿ves, Voltaire's Candide, Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Sartre's La Naus¿e, Maupassant's Bel-Ami, Claude Simon's La Route des Flandres, and Patrick Modiano's Rue des Boutiques Obscures. Written in first and third person, absorbed or not in the act of narration, variously concerned with history, ethics, and psychology, these classical, modern, and postmodern works exemplify basic positions with regard to the truth or value of narrative.His Dictionary of Narratology, published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1987, confirmed Gerald Prince as one of the world's leading narratologists. He is a professor of Romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • Lincoln, NE
Publication year:
  • 1992