Focalisation and Narration
FOCALISATION: WHO SEES?
Position of the focaliser relative to the story:
- External focalisation vs. Internal focalisation
- View of the focalised from outside vs. from within
NARRATION: WHO SPEAKS?
Temporal relations between narration and story:
- 'ulterior narration' [after the events]
- 'anterior narration' [before the events]
- 'simultaneous narration' [during the events]
- 'intercalated narration' [narration and events alternate, e.g. in epistolary novels]
- extradiegetic level: The level "immediately superior to the first narrative and concerned with its narration".
- diegetic level: "the events themselves" [diegesis = story]
- hypodiegetic level: "stories told by fictional characters [...] a second degree narrative"
"The diegetic level is narrated by an extradiegetic narrator, the hypodiegetic level by a diegetic (intradiegetic) one" (p. 92)
Functions of hypodiegetic narratives:
- Actional function: the hypodiegetic narrative contributes to the development of the plot
- Explicative function: the hypodiegetic level offers an explanation of the diegetic level
- Thematic function: the hypodiegetic narrative is in analogy to main narrative
A TYPOLOGY OF NARRATORS
Narrators may be distinguished in the following respects:
By Narrative Level: extradiegetic narrators, intradiegetic narrators, hypo- and hypohypodiegetic narrators.
By the Extent of Participation in the Story: Homodiegetic narrators are involved in the story, heterodiegetic narrators are not.
By their Degree of Perceptibility:
- Description of setting.
- Identification of characters.
- Temporal summary.
- Definition of character.
- Reports of what characters did not think or say.
By Reliability: Signs of unreliability are:
- the narrator has limited knowledge;
- is personally involved;
- represents a problematic value-scheme.
- Source: Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan. Narrative Fiction. Contemporary Poetics. London, New York: Routledge. 1994 . 71–105.
[= the modes by which information about individual characters is conveyed]
Direct definition of character
- Who defines? (narrator, characters, about self or others?)
- In what situation is the definition stated?
- Actions (commission / omission / contemplated action)
- Characteristics of Speech
- External appearance
- physical: room, house, street, town.
- human: family, social connections.
Reinforcement of Characterisation by Analogy
- Names (telling names, symbolic names, etc.)
- Contrasts and similarities between characters.
- Source: Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan. Narrative Fiction. Contemporary Poetics. London, New York: Routledge. 1994 . 59–70.
Franz K. Stanzel
first-person narration (Ich-Erzählsituation)
- first-person narrator: the narrator is part of the world of the characters
- tendency towards subjective / unreliable presentation
- narrating self (erzählendes Ich) vs. experiencing self (erlebendes Ich)
- narrator-as-protagonist vs. narrator-as-witness
- typical genres: diaries, letters, essays, (fictional) autobiographies
example: I shook my head at this unpleasant surprise, for indeed I should have anticipated it. I had it coming. It was always the same.
- third-person narrator: the narrator is not part of the world of the characters
- tendency towards objective / 'reliable' presentation
- 'telling' rather than 'showing': intrusive comments
example: The paranoid shook his head at the unpleasant surprise – the way that whiny people always do - and he thought: "I had it coming."
figural narrative situation (Personale Erzählsituation)
- third-person narrator assuming the perspective of a character: perceptions, emotions, thoughts, vocabulary are the character's, not the narrator's
- tendency towards subjective / immediate presentation
- 'showing' rather than 'telling': no intrusive comments
example: The paranoid shook his head at the unpleasant surprise. Why on earth was it always him? Why him? Again and again! He had it coming!
- Source: Franz Stanzel. Die typischen Erzählsituationen im Roman. Wien, Stuttgart: Braumüller, 1955.