“Narrative”

Culler begins by talking about the significance of narrative and the way in which story-making can be said to structure experience (82-83).

Looks back to Aristotle who argued for the centrality of plot: “good stories must have a beginning, middle, and end, and that they give pleasure because of the rhythm of their ordering” (84)

Culler adds that the “a plot requires a transformation” (84) and later suggests that we are driven to read narrative because we want to follow out the complications of that transformation and our “desire to know” or “epistemophilia” (91)

Also raises the very large question as to the effect of narrative: does it “police” and contain desire and rebellion? Or does it facilitate desire and prompt questioning of authority? (92) A question that Culler wisely encourages you to puzzle over rather than answering.

Definitions of Narratology

The poetics of narrative, as we might call it, both attempts to understand the components of narrative and analyzes how particular narratives achieve their effects” (Culler 83)

“Narratology denotes recent concerns with the general theory and practice of narrative in all literary forms. It deals especially with types of narrators, the identification of structural elements and their diverse modes of combination, recurrent narrative devices, and the analysis of the kinds of discourse by which a narrative gets told, as well as with the narratee – that is, the explicit or implied person or audience to whom the narrator addresses the narratee” (Abrams, The Glossary of Literary Terms 173)

“The analysis of structural components of a narrative, the way in which those components interrelate, and the relationship between this complex of elements and the narrative’s basic story line . . . [Narratologists] seek to explain how an author transforms (or how authors in general transform) a story line into a literary plot by analyzing the ‘rules’ that generate plot from story. They pay particular attention to such elements as point of view; the relations among story, teller, and audience; and the levels and types of discourse used in narratives” (The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms 232-33)

 A Basic Distinction of Narratology between

          fabula/syuzhet
                  events/plot
                        story/discourse

                        “the elemental materials of the story” / “the concrete representation used to convey the                                    story”

                         raw materials of the narrative / the way in which the narrative is told

what/how