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TYPES OF NARRATION

Author's Narrative. Dialogue. Interior

Speech. Represented Speech. Compositional Forms

 

A work of creative prose is never homogeneous as to the form and essence of the information it carries. Both very much depend on the viewpoint of the addresser, as the author and his personages may offer different angles of perception of the same object. Naturally, it is the author who organizes this effect of polyphony, but we, the readers, while reading the text, identify various views with various personages, not attributing them directly to the writer. The latter's views and emotions are most explicitly expressed in the author's speech (orthe author's narrative).

The uhfoldinof me plot is mainly concentrated here, personages are given characteristics, the time and the pla'ce of action are also described here, as the author sees them. The author's narrative supplies the reader with direct information about the author's preferences and objections, beliefs and contradictions, i.e. serves the major source of shaping up the author's image.

In contemporary prose, in an effort to make his writing more plausible, to impress the reader with the effect of authenticity of the described events, the writer entrusts some fictitious character (who might also participate in the narrated events) with the task of story-telling. The writer himself thus hides behind the figure of the narrator, presents all the events of the story from the latter's viewpoint and only sporadically emerges in the narrative with his own considerations, which may reinforce or contradict those expressed by the narrator. This form of the author's speech is called entrusted narrative. The structure of the entrusted narrative is much more complicated than that of the author's narrative proper, because instead of one commanding, organizing image of the author, we have the hierarchy of the narrator's image seemingly arranging the pros and cons of the related problem and, looming above the narrator's image, there stands the image of the author, the true and actual creator of it all, responsible for all the views and evaluations of the text and serving the major and predominant force of textual cohesion and unity.



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Entrusted narrative can be carried out in the 1st person singular, when the narrator proceeds with his story openly and explicitly, from his own name, as, e.g., in The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, or The Great Gatsby by Sc. Fitzgerald, or All the King's Men by R.f.Warren. In the first book Holden Caulfield himself retells about the crisis in his own life which makes the focus of the novel. In the second book Nick Carraway tells about Jay Gatsby, whom he met only occasionally, so that to tell Gatsby's life-story he had to rely on the knowledge of other personages too. And in the third book Jack Burden renders the dramatic career of Willie Stark, himself being one of the closest associates of the man. In the first case the narration has fewer deviations from the main line, than in the other two in which the narrators have to supply the reader also with the information about themselves and their connection with the protagonist.

Entrusted narrative may also be anonymous. The narrator does not openly claim responsibility for the views and evaluations but the manner of presentation, the angle of description very strongly suggest that the story is told not by the author himself but by some of his factotums, which we see, e.g., in the prose of Fl. O'Connor, C. McCullers, E. Hemingway, E. Caldwell.

The narrative, both the author's and the entrusted, is not the only type of narration observed in creative prose. A very important place here is occupied by dialogue, where personages express their minds in the form of uttered speech. In their exchange of remarks the participants of the dialogue, while discussing other people and their actions, expose themselves too. So dialogue is one of the most significant forms of the personage's self-characterization, which allows the author to seemingly eliminate himself from the process.

Another form, which obtained a position of utmost significance in contemporary prose, is interior speech of the personage, which allows the author (and the readers) to peep into the inner world of the character, to observe his ideas and views in the. making. Interior speech is best known in the form of interior monologue, a rather lengthy piece of the text (half a page and over) dealing with one major topic of the character's thinking, offering causes for his past, present or future actions. Short insets of interior speech present immediate mental and emotional reactions of the personage to the remark or action of other characters.

The workings of our brain are not intended for communication and are, correspondingly, structured in their own unique way. The imaginative reflection of mental processes, presented in the form of interior speech, being a part of the text, one of the major functions of which is communicative, necessarily undergoes some linguistic structuring to make it understandable to the readers. In extreme cases, though, this desire to be understood by others is outshadowed by the author's effort to portray the disjointed, purely associative manner of thinking, which makes interior speech almost or completely incomprenensible. These cases exercise the so-called stream-of-consciousness technique which is especially popular with representatives of modernism in contemporary literature.

So the personage's viewpoint can be realized in the uttered (dialogue) and inner (interior) speech forms. Both are introduced into the text by the author's remarks containing indication of the personage (his name or the name-substitute) and of the act of speaking (thinking) expressed by such verbs as "to say", "to think" and their numerous synonyms.

To separate and individualize the sphere of the personage, language means employed in the dialogue and interior speech differ from those used in the author's narrative and, in their unity and combination, they constitute the personage's speech characteristic which is indispensable in the creation of his image in the novel.

The last - the fourth - type of narration observed in artistic prose is a peculiar blend of the viewpoints and language spheres of both the author and the character. It was first observed and analysed almost a hundred years ago, with the term represented (reported) speech- attached to it. Represented speech serves to show either the mental reproduction of a once uttered remark, or the character's thinking. The first case is known as represented uttered speech, the second one as represented inner speech. The latter is close to the personage's interior speech in essence, but differs from it in form: it is rendered in the third person singular and may have the author's qualitative words, i.e. it reflects the presence of the author's viewpoint alongside that of the character, while interior speech belongs to the personage completely, formally too, which is materialized through the first-person pronouns and the language idiosyncrasies of the character.

The four types of narration briefly described above are singled out on the basis of the viewpoint commanding the organization of each one. If it is semantics of the text that is taken as the foundation of the classification then we shall deal with the three narrative compositional forms traditionally singled out in poetics and stylistics. They are: narrative proper where the unfolding of the plot is concentrated. This is the most dynamic compositional form of the text. Two other forms - description and argumentation - are static. The former supplies the details of the appearance of people and things "populating" the book, of the place and time of action, the latter offers causes and effects of the personage's behaviour, his (or the author's) considerations about moral, ethical, ideological and other issues. It is rather seldom that any of these compositional forms is used in a "pure", uninterrupted way. As a rule they intermingle even within the boundaries of a paragraph.

All the compositional forms can be found in each of the types of narration but with strongly varying frequences.

Exercise I. Find examples of various types of narration and narrative compositional forms. Pay attention to language means used in each one. State their functions. Discuss correlations existing between the type of narration, compositional form and the language of the discourse:

1. Novelists write for countless different reasons: for money, for fame, for reviewers, for parents, for friends, for loved ones; for vanity, for pride, for curiosity, for amusement; as skilled furniture-makers enjoy making furniture, as drunkards like drinking, as judges like judging, as Sicilians like emptying a shotgun into an enemy's back. I could fill a book with reasons, and they would all be true, though not true of all. Only one same reason is shared by all of us: we wish to create worlds as real as, but other than the world that is. Or was. This is why we cannot plan. We know a world is an organism, not a machine. We also know that a genuinely created world must be independent of its creator: a planned world (a world that fully reveals its planning) is a dead world. It is only when our characters and events begin to disobey us that they begin to live. (J.F.)

2. He refused a taxi. Exercise, he thought, and no drinking at least a month. That's what does it. The drinking. Beer, martinis, have another. And the way your head felt in the morning. (I.Sh.)

3. Now she come my room, he thought. "What you want?" he demanded.

"May I come in?"

"This house," he said slowly, "she yours."

"Tell me your name," she said. "You," he burst out. "This long time and no know my name - and no ask! What my name? Who me? You no care." (R.W.)

4. His mind gathered itself out of the wreckage of little things: out of all that the world had shown or taught him he could remember now only the great star above the town, and the light that had swung over the hill, and the fresh sod upon Ben's grave and the wind, and the far sounds and music, and Mrs. Pert.

Wind pressed the boughs, the withered leaves were shaking. A star was shaking. A light was waking. Wind was quaking. The star was far. The night, the light. The light was bright. A chant, a song, the slow dance of the little things within him. The star over the town, the light over the hill, the sod over Ben, night all over. His mind fumbled with little things. Over us all is some thing. Star night, earth, light... light... О lost!... a stone... a leaf... a door... О ghost!... a light... a song... a light... a light... a light awnings over the hill... over us all... a star shines over the town... over us all... a light.

We shall not come again. We never shall come back again. But over us all over us all... is - something.

A light swings over the hill. (We shall not come again.) And over the town a star. (Over us all, over us all that shall not come again.) And over the day the dark. But over the darkness - what?

We shall not come again. We never shall come back again.

Over the dawn a lark. (That shall not come again.) And wind and music far. О lost! (It shall not come again.) And over your mouth the earth. О ghost! But over the darkness - what? (T.W.)

5. "Honestly. I don't feel anything. Except ashamed." "Please. Are you sure? Tell me the truth. You might have been killed." "But I wasn't. And thank you. For saving my life. You're wonderful. Unique. I love you." (T.C.)

6. "What's your Christian name, Sir?" angrily inquired the little Judge. "Nathaniel, Sir." "Daniel - any other name?" "Nathaniel, Sir - my Lord, I mean." "Nathaniel Daniel or Daniel Nathaniel?" "No, my Lord, only Nathaniel - not Daniel at all." "What did you tell me it was Daniel for then, Sir?" inquired the Judge. (D.)

7. "Now I know you lying," Sam was emphatic. "You lying as fast as a dog can trot," Fishbelly said. "You trying to pull wool over our eyes," Tony accused. (Wr.)

8. "She thought he could be persuaded to come home." "You mean a dinge?"

"No, a Greek."

"Okey," Nulty said and spit into the wastebasket. "Okey. You met the big guy how? You seem to pick up awful easy."

"All right," I said. "Why argue? I've seen the guy and you haven't. In the morning I was a well man again." (R.Ch.)

9. "She's home. She's lying down."

"She all right?" "She's tired. She went to see Fonny."

"How's Fonny taking it?"

"Taking it."

"She see Mr. Hayword?"

"No. She's seeing him on Monday."

"You going with her?"

"I think I better." (J.B.)

10. "Ah, fine place," said the stranger, "glorious pile - frowning walls - tottering arches - dark nooks - crumbling staircases - old cathedral too - earthy smell - pilgrim's feet worn away the old steps - little Saxon doors - confessionals like money-taker's boxes at theatres - queer customers those monks - Popes and Lord Treasurers and all sort of old fellows, with great red faces, and broken noses turning up every day buff jerkins too - match-locks - Sarcophagus - fine place - old legends too - strange stories: capital." (D.)

11. "She's a model at Bergdorf Goodman's." "She French?"

"She's about as French as you are -" "That's more French than you think." (J.O'H.)

12. ...and the wineshops open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about with his lamp and О that awful deepdown torrent О and the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a flower of the mountains yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me yes.... (J.J.)

13. ...Thou lost one. All songs on that theme. Yet more Bloom stretched his string. Cruel it seems. Let people get fond of each other: lure them on. Then tear asunder. Death. Explos. Knock on head. Outohellout of that. Human life. Dignam. Ugh, that rat's tail wriggling! Five bob I gave. Corpus paradisum. Corncrake croaker: belly like a poisoned pup. Gone. Forgotten. I too. And one day she with. Leave her: get tired. Suffer then. Snivel. Big Spanishy eyes goggling at nothing. Her wavyavyeavyheavyeavyevyevy hair uncombe'd. (J.J.)

14. The young man's name was Eddy Little John, but over dinner he said, look here, would they call him Ginger: everyone else did. So they began to call him Ginger, and he said wouldn't it be a good idea if they had another bottle of fizz, and Nina and Adam said yes, it would, so they had a magnum and got very friendly. (E.W.)

15. Every morning she was up betimes to get the fire lit in her gentlemen's sitting room so that they needn't eat their breakfasts simply perishin' with the cold, my word it's bitter this morning. (S.M.)

16. The girl noted the change for what she deemed the better. He was so nice now, she thought, so white-skinned and clear-eyed and keen. (Dr.)

17. But in any case, in her loving she was also re-creating herself, and she had gone upstairs to be in the dark. While downstairs Adam and I sat in the swing on the gallery, not saying a word. That was the evening Adam got counted out for all the other evenings, and out you go, you dirty dishrag, you. (R. W.)

18. And then he laughed at himself. He was getting nervy and het up like everybody else m the house. (Ch.)

19. Sometimes he wondered if he'd ever really known his father. Then out of the past would come that picture of a lithe, active young feller who was always good for an argument, always ready to bring company home, especially the kind of company that gives food for thought in return for a cup of tea and something to go with it. (St.B.)

20. Well, I'll tell you. A man I know slightly, he was one of the smartest traders in Wall Street. You wouldn't know his name, because I don't think I ever had occasion to mention it except perhaps to your mother and it wouldn't have interested you. He was a real plunger, that fellow. The stories they told downtown about him, they were sensational. Well, as I say he's always been a pretty smart trader. They say he was the only one that called the turn in 1929. He got out of the market in August 1929, at the peak. Everybody told him, why, you're crazy, they said. Passing up millions. Millions, they told him. Sure, he said. Well, I'm willing to pass them up and keep what I have, he told them, and of course they all laughed when he told them he was going to retire and sit back and watch the ticker from a cafe in Paris. Retire and only thirty-eight years of age? Huh. They never heard such talk, the wisenheimers downtown. Him retire? No, it was in his blood, they said. He'd be back. He'd go to France and make a little whoopee, but he'd be back and in the market just as deeply as ever. But he fooled them. He went to France all right, and I suppose he made whoopee because I happen to know he has quite a reputation that way. And they were right saying he'd be back, but not the way they thought. He came back first week in November, two years ago, right after the crash. Know what he did? He bought a Rolls-Royce Phantom that originally cost eighteen thousand dollars, he bought that for a thousand-dollar bill. He bought a big place out on Long Island. I don't know exactly what he paid for it, but one fellow told me he got it for not a cent more than the owner paid for one of those big indoor tennis courts they have out there. For that he got the whole estate, the land house proper, stables, garages, everything. Yacht landing. Oh, almost forget. A hundred and eighty foot yacht for eighteen thousand dollars. The figure"! do know because I remember hearing a hundred dollars a foot was enough for any yacht. And mind you, the estate was with all the furniture. And because he got out in time and had the cash. Everything he had was cash. Wouldn't lend a cent. Not one red cent for any kind of interest. Just wasn't interested, he said. Buy, yes. He bought cars, houses, big estates, paintings worth their weight in radium, practically, but lend money? No. He said it was his way of getting even with the wisenheimers that laughed at him the summer before when he said he was going to retire. (J.O'H.)

21. Holmes was certainly not a difficult man to live with He was quiet in his ways and his habits were regular. It was rare for him to be up after ten at night and he had invariably breakfasted and gone out before I rose in the morning. His very person and appearance were such as to strike the attention of the most casual observer. In height he was rather over six feet and so excessively lean that he seemed to be considerably taller. His eyes were sharp and piercing save during those intervals of torpor to which I have alluded; and his thin hawklike nose gave his whole expression an air of alertness and decision. His chin, too, had the prominence and squareness which mark the man of determination. (C.D.)




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