The Modes of Narrativity and their Visual Metaphors
Narratology has explored in depth the modes of narration, but it has left largely untouched the question of the modes of narrativity. This term designates the various ways in which narrative structures are realized in texts. To call a novel or short story narrative is an entirely different matter from that of applying the same term to a lyric poem, drama, baseball broadcast, or to speak of the (potentially untold) "story" of somebody's life. As a cognitive category necessary to the proper understanding of a work, the narrative structure of a text may be compared to the identifiable shape of an object in a visual work. The essay describes various modalities, and proposes for each of them an analogy borrowed from the visual arts. The categories include simple, multiple, complex, proliferating, braided, diluted, embryonic, underlying, figural, anti, instrumental, and deferred narrativity.
Possible Worlds in Recent Literary Theory.
This is a survey article on the significance of Possible Worlds Theory for literary studies. Developed by philosophers belonging to the Anglo-Saxon school of analytic philosophy as a means to solve problems in formal semantics, PW theory was adapted to literary criticism in the late seventies by scholars such as Thomas Pavel, Lubomir Dolezel, and Umberto Eco. The theory contributes to literary semantics the model of a semantic universe encompassing a plurality of worlds, the concept of accessibility relations among these worlds, and the opposition of one possible world to all others as the one and only actual world. The adaptation of these concepts allowed literary theorists to revive questions which had been declared heretic by structuralism: the truth value of literary discourse, the relation between fictional worlds and the real world, the problem of reference in literary discourse, and, more generally, the problem of representation. The model also awakened the attention of narratologists to the role of virtual elements in the semantics of plot and provided tools for the description of the narrative experiments of postmodernism. The impact of PW theory on literary criticism is studied in four different areas: (1) the theory and semantics of fictionality; (2) genre theory and the semantic typology of fictional worlds; (3) narrative semantics and theory of characters; and (4) the poetics of postmodernism.