In the previous chapters my approach has been to follow the history of English narrative from its supposed oral beginnings to its postmodern developments in the past thirty years, with brief excursions into German, French and Spanish literature. In this final chapter my double-pronged theoretical and historical method will need to be justified by its results, that is to say by the perspectives it affords for future research.
In Chapter 1 I proposed a new interpretation of what I call narrativity (and what Gerald Prince calls narrativehood). 1 Narrative at its fullest manifestation, I argue, correlates with human experientiality. Although this appears to be a fairly traditional view, my reconstitution of narrativity on the basis of experientiality allows for three important corollaries which depart from traditional understandings of narrative. For one, experientiality both subsumes and marginalizes plot. Events or actantial and motivational parameters in and of themselves constitute only a zero degree of narrativity, a minimal frame for the production of experientiality. (Compare below under 8.1.3.) This, in a second move, allows me to define a great number of plotless narratives from the twentieth century as narratives fully satisfying the requirement of experientiality since these texts operate by means of a projection of consciousness—the character’s, that of the narrative voice, or the reader’s—without necessarily needing any actantial base structure. Narrativity can therefore dispense with plot, but it cannot dispense with fictionality. There does need to be a fictional situation that consists in the presence of at least one persona and her consciousness. Neither existence per se nor plot per se constitute narrativity, but the crucial factor is that of human immundation, of situational embodiment. In experimental texts embodiment can be reduced to consciousness or perception with the setting dwindling to rudimentary implied contiguities. But consciousness there needs to be, because this is the locus of experientiality. A third corollary of my redefinition of narrativity is that it closely aligns narrativity with fictionality per se. As I have attempted to illustrate under 7.6, poetry can turn into narrative, it can become fictional, that is, precisely to the extent that a situation is depicted which then allows for the constitution of experientiality. Conversely, in so far