This book began its life during my stay at the National Humanities Center (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina), where I was completing a book on speech and thought representation. Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology grew from material that was too unwieldy to be included in The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction since I found that the larger narratological issues that I was broaching required nothing short of a radical reconceptualization of narratology, indeed required the creation of a new narrative paradigm. In the meantime I had also started on a project examining narrative structure in late medieval and early modern English narrative on which I continued work during a sojourn at Freiburg on a Humboldt fellowship. In this way my earlier (pre)occupation with the representation of consciousness, my long-time narratological interests and training, and this new project dealing with early English texts all came together to produce what for some people may remain a very diversified bill of fare, featuring conversational storytelling and Literature (with a capital L), linguistics and narratology, postmodernist issues and questions of literary theory.
Towards a ‘Natural’ Narratology proposes to redefine narrativity in terms of cognitive (‘natural’) parameters, moving beyond formal narratology into the realm of pragmatics, reception theory and constructivism. Unlike traditional narratology, this new model attempts to institute organic frames of reading rather than formal concepts or categories that are defined in terms of binary oppositions. Unlike most other narrative theories, moreover, the new paradigm is explicitly and deliberately historical. The towards in the title reflects not merely the preliminary nature of the proposed cognitive and organicist model; it also refers to the chronological path which individual chapters trace from storytelling in the oral language to medieval, early modern, realist, Modernist and postmodernist types of writing. It is only by means of this diachronic journey through English literature that the conceptual tools which are requisite for a ‘natural’ narratology could be developed.
In contrast to the ‘classic’ narratologies of Bal, Chatman, Genette, Prince or Stanzel, this model sets out to discuss narrativity, not from the