08 Literary Narrative Fiction
History, Genres, Analysis
Dickens Bicentenary
Teachers’ resources:
Literary events:
Student website for info:
Dickens Bicentenary Continued
Celebration on 19 December:
a live-streamed audience with Lucinda dickens
Hawksley, Great-Great-Great-Granddaughter
of Charles Dickens
Personal, political, historical, legal, medical
narratives: narrative’s power to capture
certain truths and experiences in special ways
- unlike other modes of explanation and
analysis such as statistics, descriptions,
summaries, or reasoning via conceptual
The spectrum of fiction
fact – fiction – truth?
Realism Romance
Romance Fantasy
Realism vs romance: a matter of perception
vs a matter of vision
2 principal ways fiction can be related to life
Literary narrative fiction
literature: art of language
kinds of Iiterature: poetry,
narrative fiction
prose: from Latin prosa or proversa oratio
=‘straightforward discourse’
M. Jourdain: I've been speaking in PROSE all along!
Moliere (1622-1673), Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Literary conventions
an agreement between artist and audience as to
the significance of features
appearing in a work of art
knowledge of conventions = literary competence
narrative: tells of real or imagined events;
tells a story
fiction: an imagined creation in verse/prose/drama
story: (imagined) events or happenings,
involving a conflict
plot: arrangement of action → structure
Literary, narrative, fictional:
distinct features, do not presuppose each other
• Where do we place lyric poetry?
Marie-Laure Ryan, Possible Worlds, Artificial
Intelligence, and Narrative Theory.
Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana UP, 1991
Literary, narrative, fictional:
Lit. narr. fict.
Nonlit. nonnarr.
The history of fiction
• Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in
Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (1957)
• Dale Spender, Mothers of the Novel (1988)
• Margaret Anne Doody, The True Story of the
Novel (1996)
In: J. A. Cuddon: Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory.
London: Penguin, 1999
Derived from Italian novella, 'tale, piece of news‘
applied to a wide variety of writings
only common attribute is that they are extended
pieces of prose fiction
The length of novels varies greatly
when is a novel not a novel or a long short-story or a
short novel or a novella?
Fewer and fewer rules
in contemporary practice a novel is between 6070.000 words and, say, 200.000.
The actual term 'novel' has had a variety of meanings and
implications at different stages.
From roughly the 15th to the 18th c. its meaning tended to
derive from the Italian novella and the Spanish novela (the
French term nouvelle, is closely related)
The term (often used in a plural sense) denoted short stories or
tales of the kind one finds in Boccaccio's Decameron (c. 1349
51). Nowadays we would classify all the contents of these as
short stories.
Novel /novelty
The term denoted a prose narrative about characters and their
actions in what was recognizably everyday life and usually in the
present, with the emphasis on things being 'new' or a 'novelty'.
It was used in contradistinction to 'romance'.
In the 19th c. the concept of 'novel' was enlarged.
A form of story or prose narrative containing
characters, action and incident and, perhaps, a
The form - susceptible to change and
Pliable and adaptable to a seemingly endless
variety of topic and themes
A wide range of sub-species or categories.
The subject matter of the novel eludes classification.
A number of these classifications shade off into each other.
or example, psychological novel is a term which embraces
many books; proletarian, propaganda and thesis novels tend to
have much in common; the picaresque narrative is often a novel
of adventure; a saga novel may also be a regional novel.
The origins of the genre are obscure
but in the time of the XIIth Dynasty Middle
Kingdom (c. 1200 BC) Egyptians were writing
fiction of a kind which one would describe as a
novel today
From Classical times
Daphnis and Chloe (2nd c. BC) by Longus
The Golden Ass (2nd c. AD) by Apuleius
Satyricon (1st c. AD) of Petronius Arbiter
Most of these are concerned with love and contain the
rudiments of novels as we understand them today
Oriental prose fiction
Arabian Nights‘ Entertainments, or The Thousand and One
Nights, 10th c. the collection, collected and established as a
group of stories probably by an Egyptian professional story-teller
at some time between the 14th and 16th c.
Became known in Europe early in the 18th c., since when they
have had a considerable influence.
Collections of novella or short tales
Italy Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1349–52, revised 1370–1371)
had much influence on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury
Tales (late 14th c.)
Matteo Bandello’s Le Novelle (written between 1510 and 1560)
France Marguerite of Navarre‘ Heptaméron (published in 1558)
These were integrated short stories but important as they were
in prose
In their method of narration and in their creation and
development of character they are forerunners of the modern
Until the 14th c. most of the literature of entertainment (and the
novel is usually intended as an entertainment) was confined to
narrative verse, particularly the epic and the romance.
Romance eventually yielded the word roman, which is the term
for novel in most European languages.
In some ways the novel is a descendant of the medieval
romances, which, in the first place, like the epic, were written in
verse and then in prose (e.g. Malory's Morte D'Arthur, 1485).
Verse narratives had been supplanted by prose narratives by the
end of the 17th c.
Spain - was ahead of the rest of Europe in the development of
The novel form.
Cervantes's Don Quixote de la Mancha (1605, 1615) satirized
chivalry and a number of the earlier novels
In France Rabelais's Gargantua (1534) and Pantagruel (1532)
can be classed as novels of phantasy, or mythopoeic
England, end of the 15th c., extended prose narrative:
John Lyly's Euphues (in two parts, 1578 and 1580
Sir Philip Sidney's pastoral romance Arcadia (1590).
1719 – Daniel Defoe published his story of adventure Robinson
Crusoe, one in a long tradition of desert island fiction
Defoe's other two main contributions to the novel form were
Moll Flanders (1722), a sociological novel, and A Journal of the
Plague Year (1722) – a reconstruction and thus a piece of
historical fiction
Books on Fiction
Booth, Wayne: The Rhetoric of Fiction. Second edition. London:
Penguin, 1991 (1983)
Lodge, David: The Art of Fiction. London: Penguin, 1992
Rimmon-Kenan, Shlomith: Narrative Fiction: Contemporary
Poetics. London and New York: Methuen, 1983
Integrated short stories
Arabian Nights' Entertainments, or The Thousand and One
Boccaccio: Decameron
James Joyce: Dubliners
any sort of stroy of chivalry or of love
Cervantes: Don Quixote (1605-1615)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (14th c.)
Thomas Malory: Le Morte D’Arthur (15th c.)
Pastoral romance
Longus: Daphnis and Chloe (2nd c. A.D.)
Philip Sidney: Arcadia (1590)
Thomas Hardy: Tess of the d’Urbevilles (1891), Jude the
Obscure (1895)
Picaresque novel
tells the life of a knave or a picaroon who is the servant of
severel masters
Daniel Defoe: Moll Flanders (1722)
Henry Fielding: Jonathan Wild (1743)
Novel of adventure / desert island novel
related to te picaresque novel and the romance
Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe (1719)
R.L. Stevenson: Treasure Island (1883)
Mark Twain: Tom Sawyer (1876)
Huckleberry Finn (1885)
James Fenimore Cooper: The Last of the Mohicans (1826)
Gothic novel
a type of romance, popular from the 1760s until the 1820s,
has terror and cruelty as main themes, impact on the ghost
story and the horror story
Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto (1764
Ann Radcliffe: Mysteries of Udolpho (1794)
Mary Shelley: Frankenstein (1818)
Jane Austen: Northanger Abbey (1818)
Charles Dickens: Great Expectations (1861)
R. L. Stevenson: Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886)
Dracula, doppelgänger
Epistolary novel
in the form of letters, popular in the 18th c.
Samuel Richardson: Pamela (1740) and Clarissa
Harlowe (1747, 1748)
Tobias Smollett: Humphrey Clinker (1771)
Sentimental novel / novel of sentimentality
popular in the 18th c., distresses of the virtuous
Samuel Richardson: Pamela (1740)
Oliver Goldsmith: The Vicar of Wakefield (1766)
Sentimentality in fiction
Laurence Sterne: A Sentimental Journey (1768)
Historical novel
a form of fictional narrative which reconstructs history
Walter Scott: Waverly (1814)
William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair (1847-48)
Robert Graves: I, Claudius (1934)
William Golding: Rites of Passage (1980)
Documentary novel
based on documentary evidence in the shape of newspapee
article, etc.
Truman Capote: In Cold Blood (1966)
Graham Greene: The Quiet American (1955)
Key novel
actual persons are presented under fictitious names
Aldous Huxley: Point Counter Point (1928) (D. H. Lawrence)
thesis / sociological / propaganda novel
treats of a social, political, religious problem
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852)
the condition of England novel /regional novel
Charles Dickens: Hard Times (1854)
Charlotte Brontë: Shirley (1849)
[gr. Ou + topos = no place adn eutopia = place where all is
Thomas More: Utopia (1516)
George Orwell: Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949)
Jonathan Swift: Gulliver’s Travels (1726, 1735)
William Golding: Lord of the Flies (1954)
Anti-utopia, dystopia
Science fiction
Phantasy or fantasy
Campus novel
has a university campus as setting
Mary McCarthy: The Groves of Academe (1952)
Kingsley Amis: Lucky Jim (1954)
David Lodge: Changing Places (1975)
The saga / chronicle novel
narrative about the life of a large family
John Galsworthy: Forsyte Saga (1906-1921)
Time novel
employs stream of consciousness technique, time is used as
a theme
James Joyce: Ulysses (1922)
Marcel Proust: A la recherche du temps perdu (1913-1927)
Psychological novel
concerned with emotional, mental lives of the characters
Virginia Woolf: Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Building blocks of narrative
types of character (»roles)
types of event
types of lack and restoration
types of getting from beginning to end
(How do you know it is the end of the story?)
• types of setting
• types of narrator
characterization: round vs flat characters
E.M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel
stereotypes: characters based on conscious or
unconscious cultural assumptions that sex,
age, ethnic or national identification,
occupation, marital status and so on, are
predictably accompanied by certain character
traits, actions, even values
Arrangement of events
• with a particular kind of beginning and ending
orientation, closure, coda
• usually told for a purpose
• typically about change:
situation A changes to situation B
leads to restoration
structure: connecting elements,
selection, connection, ordering of information
leading to a recognition
moving to illuminate the beginning
by the ending
The space where the narrative takes place:
rural setting, urban setting,
nature scenes, country houses etc.
Settings often echo or emphasize other features:
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)
Yorkshire moors
Wuthering Heights ↔Thrushcross Grange
harsh, rough
warm, soft, civilised
Space and Time
James Joyce, Ulyesses (1922)
16 June 1904
Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway (1925)
a single day in June,
after WWI
Narrator, narration
narrator: one who tells a story within/outside
the space and time of story
Who tells the story?
To whom?
narration: narrative perspective: point of view
author ≠ author's persona (mask) ≠ narrator
(Samuel Clemens vs Mark Twain)
Narrator, narration, narrative
• account of a sequence of connected events
• told by a narrator
what happened vs how it is told
Narration - rearranges the order of events
e.g., flashback:
historical time vs narrated order
- sets up relations between events
e.g., cause and effect
Narrative perspective
• viewing aspect: focus
like a movie camera:
choosing, framing,
emphasizing, distorting
limited/unlimited (omniscient narrator)
stand back: dramatic focus
• verbal aspect: voice
Point of view
• visual perspective
• ideological framework
• basic types of narration: 1st person (I-narration)
3rd person (they-narration)
e.g., 'window' on text:
seems objective
internal vs external
restricted knowledge vs unrestricted knowledge
(seemed, looked as if)
• texts with instability of point of view: watch out for
WHO experiences and WHAT is experienced
• external focalization: unidentified narrator
• character focalization: a character experiences
focalizer: the one who is looking
focalized: what is being focussed on
expression and construction of types of
consciousness and self-consciousness
Shifting narrative viewpoints, several narrators:
Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights (1847)
the study of narrative in literature
Early examples in the 20th century:
Vladimir Propp (Russian Formalist)
Morphology of the Folktale (1928)
Claude Lévi-Strauss (Structuralist)
Anthropologie Structurale (1958) (myths)
Gérard Genette, Narrative discourse (1972)
Gérard Genette’s system
Based on the distinction between story and plot
(fabula and syuzhet in Russian formalism)
- récit (the chronological order of events
in a text or narrative)
- histoire (the sequence in which events
actually occur)
- narration (the act of narrating)
(Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse, 1972)
Genette’s system
narrative: the result of the interaction of
its component levels
3 basic kinds of narrator:
- narrator is absent from his own narrative
((‘heterodiegetic narrator’))
- narrator is inside his narrative (1st person)
((‘homodiegetic narrator’))
- narrator is inside his narrative and also main
((‘autodiegetic narrator’))
Roland Barthes (1915-1980)
France: from structuralism to poststructuralism
attempt to describe narrative as a formal system
based on the model of a grammar
‘The death of the Author’ (essay from 1967)
(against the concept of the author as a way
of forcing a meaning on to a text)
S/Z (1970) a critical reading of Balzac’s Sarrasine
text open to interpretation
What can you notice about the following excerpts?
(Can you guess the period, the author, the work?)
How is the weather defining the beginning of the
book in Chapter 1?
What do we find out about the narrator from the
way Mrs Fairfax is introduced in Ch 12?
How is the introduction of the people in Moor
house different in Ch 30?
Do you notice anything special about the way the
last chapter, Ch 38 begins?
Chapter 1
There was no possibility of taking a walk
that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in
the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning;
but since dinner (Mrs Reed, when there was
no company, dined early), the cold winter
wind had brought with it clouds so sombre,
and a rain so penetrating, that further
outdoor exercise was now out of the question.
(Penguin Classics edition, p 39)
Chapter 12
The promise of a smooth career, which my
first calm introduction to Thornfield Hall
seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longer
acquaintance with the place and its inmates.
Mrs. Fairfax turned out to be what she
appeared, a placid-tempered, kind-natured
woman, of competent education and average
intelligence. My pupil was a lovely child; who
had been spoilt and indulged (140)
Chapter 30
The more I knew of the inmates of Moor House,
the better I liked them. In a few days I have so far
recovered my health that I could sit up all day,
and walk out sometimes. I could join with Diana
and Mary in all their occupations, converse with
them as much as they wished, and aid them
when and where they would allow me. There was
a reviving pleasure in this intercourse, of a kind
now tasted by me for the first time – the pleasure
arising from perfect congeniality of tastes,
sentiments, and principles.
Chapter 38
Reader, I married him. A quiet wedding we
had: he and I, the parson and clerk, were
alone present. When we got back from
church, I went into the kitchen of the manor
house, where Mary was cooking the dinner,
and John cleaning the knives, and I said –
‘Mary, I have been married to Mr
Rochester this morning.’

Story, Plot, Narrative Voice