: Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative ( ): Mieke Bal: Books. Download Bal- ( MB). Locale: en. Narratology: introduction to the theory of narrative / Mieke Bal Bal, Mieke, In this second edition, Professor Bal broadens the spectrum of her theoretical.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Introduction 3 Remarks and Sources 15 Printed on acid-free paper 1 Text: Delimitation 36 Translation of: De theorie van vertellen en verhalen. Motivation 37 Includes bibliographical references. Kinds 89 Functions 90 3 Fabula: Change General Rhythm Second Criterion: Choice Ellipsis Third Criterion: It does not provide a naarrative of the major different trends in the field of narrative theory.

There are other books available that provide such a survey. The choice for a systematic, hence limited, approach has been made for the sake of understanding, of the possibility of lntroduction of opinions, and of emancipation from intimidation. The choices I have made in this book were born from the conviction that a systematic account of one theory, which proceeds from definition, showing at every step its own structure and the necessity of its own phases, is easier for beginners in the field to understand than a plural survey of many differ- ent theories, involving names, terms, and, especially, heterogeneous arguments.

For the same reason, names of predecessors have been reduced to the absolute minimum and, wherever possible, accounted for in special paragraphs at the ends of the chapters. The theory presented as a whole is also better accessible in the sense that whoever uses it will understand it the same way.

This agreement of users has the advantage of a greater intersubjectivity.

Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, Fourth Edition – Mieke Bal – Google Books

Teaching it becomes easier, learning it more feasible, because the risk of misunderstanding is reduced. Finally, the use of a method of analysis that every participant in a discussion can master helps students overcome the feeling of intimidation that a brilliant but unexpectedly structured interpretation tgeory a teacher often entails.

It is that feeling – the feeling that the tea cher, while conveying the desire to master literature, may at the same time, by the very brilliance of his naerative her per- formance, intimidate – that brought me to the development of the present account.

Once Narrxtology was able to use a theory, I noticed a progression in the quality of my interpretations as well as in my capacity to teach.

Soon after its appearance in Dutch, Christine van Boheemen and the theory alone. Conceived as a set of tools, as a means to express found it useful in her teaching of English and American literature. She and specify one’s interpretative reactions to a text, the theory presented undertook the heavy task of adapting examples to an international audi- here holds no claim to certainty. If It appears today In ItS present form, it is due to her generous and character should be considered to have been generated.

It is, quite the competent efforts, for which I want to express my deep gratitude. Narratoology also opposite, conceived as it is because interpreta tion, although not abso- thank Jonathan Culler, who believed in the enterprise from the start and lutely arbitrary since it does, or should, interact with a text, is in practice encouraged me to pursue narratology, even when facing difficulties of sorts which unlimited and free.

Hence, 1 find, the need for a discourse that makes I introcuction rather spare the reader. The same holds for Henry Schogt and each interpretation expressible, accessible, communicable.

Secondly, the Paul Perron, loyal supporters in Toronto. I have myself used this theory Nobody. Feedback of any kind will always be these cannot, or should not, be separated.

Hence, the need of more the- most welcome; It wIll help to Increase the usefulness of the narrativf for the ory, beyond narratology: If the need for that broader kind of theory makes itself felt more acutely, narratology will have served its purpose just fine. One need not adhere to structuralism as a philosophy in order to be able to use the concepts and views presented narrattology this book.


Neither does one need to feel that adherence to, for example, a deconstructionist, Marxist, or feminist view of literature hinders the use of this book.

The scope of narratology, in my view an indis- pensable tool, is a limited one. The examples given are introduuction. They corne from different linguistic communities, including Dutch, my native language.

introdution Many Dutch exam- ples have been replaced by others from more accessible literatures. A few, however, have been kept; they are provided with a short biblio- graphical note at the end of the book.

Examples are drawn from differ- ent levels of aesthetic elaboration; not only from well-known literary novels but also from works of children’s fiction and journalism; there are even fictitious examples. The latter narratibe a kind of series. The date of appearance of this book qualifies its place in the discus- sion of literary studies.

It comes late, if one considers it a result of struc- turalism. Edition Here is a sequel to the preface.

Ten years later, the book was still enough In demand to warrant reprinting it. Jut I was less and less comfortable wIth It, and so I ttheory to revise it.

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There were three problems with reprinting it as was. First of all, I wa’ more and more uneasy about the tone of it, the references to ‘being s,lre’ and all those remnants of the positivistic discourse of my training hat inhere in structuralist thought. I also changed my opinion, or perh”Ps my mood, regarding the some- what arid presentation of concepts “”lth examples only relating to the concept being presented.

This becant e so conspicuous as I became a bit looser in my own critical practice. Even more decisively, my recent work has been less oriented narrarive literary narrative than to narrative in such diverse domains as anthropology, visual art, and the critique of scholarship. And then, of course, thd e was the problem of all the newer work on narratology I had not know! These three problems tk me wllvering between rejecting it alto- gether and revising it; betwecn sli,;ht and thorough revising.

I have moved on to other things since I wrote thIS book. Yet, the demand for the book did make it obvious that it is an instrument functioning in mirke public domain that I cannot simply’ take away. Negotiating my way through all this, I have, I hope, sohf ed two mieie of the three problems mentioned. I have changed thc tone “”herever I could, trying to empha- inttroduction more the role of narratology as a heuristic tool, rhe an objective narratoology provldmg certainty.

To this mieie there IS one exception. But readers are, obviously, welcome to ignore them. In addition to ad hoc examples of just With which thekry process narrative. It IS by nzrrative of the text that the reader has nical demonstration. These examples stand out as later additions and, access to the story, of which the fabula is, so to speak, a memorial trace whenever they are a bit longer, they are graphically marked off from the that remams With the reader after completion of the reading.

Other new main text. Together, they form a range of works that show simulta- work has simply been added to the ‘Remarks and Sources’ at the end of neously how narratology can intervene in other disciplines as much as each chapter.

Narra- tive is more important than ever, not only in literary studies but in history, where the awareness of narrative construction has grown tre- mendously; in cultural studies, where cultural memory, documented in mostly narrative form, is a popular subject of study; in film studies, which has itself bloomed over the past ten years, with its inevitably nar- rative subject matter.

But it narrratology that with the growth of the study of narrative, interest in what makes narratives ‘be’ or ‘come across’ as narrative has only declined. Partly, narratology is to blame for this discrepancy, with its positivistic claims, formalist limitations, and in- mikee, idiosyncratic jargon. It is my hope that more modest claims, together with a more accessible presentation and more insight into the way narratology can be introducrion in conjunction with other concerns and theories, may arouse renewed interest in its possibilities.


But, whereas narratology has continued to be elaborated and dis- cussed, little of the work I found was geared towards the beginning nar- ratologist in the way I wanted this book to be.

Most work on narrative texts is not based on narratological analysis, and those that are invari- ably fall back on Genette’s classical theory, which I had integrated into this book in so far as it was helpful, and criticized in so far as it was not. The exception is the work based on Bakhtin’s theory of dialogism, which offers a different view on narrative.

I have integrated this view as best as I could without sacrificing consistency. I have continued to pay little attention to mieie theory. This is not a statement on its importance but simply a matter of economy. Within the self-imposed limitations of this book, reception is not an issue of narratology per se, ‘x ‘ ‘pl wlll’rc communicative figures such as narrator and focahzor can ht’.

A theory is a systematic set of generalized statements about a particular segment of reality. That segment of reality, the corpus, about which narratology attempts to make its prono uncements consists of ‘narrative texts’ of all kinds, made for a variety of purposes and serving many different functions. One should not expect to actually be able to say that the corpus consists of all narra tive texts and only those texts which are narrative. For one of the first problems in advancing such a theory is the formulation of charac- teristics untroduction which we can delimit that corpus.

Although everyone has a general idea of what narrative texts are, it is certainly not always easy to decide whether or not a given text should be considered narrative, partly or wholly.

This is intorduction really a problem. If the necessary characteristics can be defined, these same narratokogy can then serve as the point of depar- ture for the next phase: Once this is accomplished, we have a description of a lIf1rrative system.

On the basis of this description, we can then examine Ihe variations that are pOSSible when the narrative system is concretized Inl o narrative texts. This last step presupposes that an infinite number of “”rretive texts can be described using the finite number of concepts con- Idined within the narrative system. This book presents an exposition of a “oherent, systematic narratology and of the concepts pertaining to it in Ihl s sense.

Readers are offered an instrument with which they can ‘ ,”8 ribe narrative texts. Narartology does not imply that the theory is some “1 The concepts that are pre- narrative, and poelll, and also with the more specific concepts which will sented here must be regarded as intellectual tools. Furthermore, dlscovenng the charac- study lesson, discussion, thesis, article, etc.

But above all, the concepts help to increase understandmg ball for use in other contexts; but at least the concepts under discussion by encouraging readers to articulate what the: A disagreement about the status of comic strips they understand, when reading or otherwise processmg a narrative would quickly be settled if the definition of a text were first agreed on.

In other words, definitions are like a language: The textual description obtained with the aid of this theory can by no ‘dictionary’ so bak one understands what another means. Someone As suggested above, presenting a theory about narrative texts entails else may use the same concepts differently, emphasiZe other aspects of defining a number of central concepts. Much of this book consists of just the text, and, consequently, produce a different textual descnptlOn.

But let me begin with some basic terms. Within the reading is an activity of a subjective nature.