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Девятых Юлия Владимировна
Черновицкий национальный университет имени Юрия Федьковича
аспирант кафедры английского языка, специальность 10.02.04 – Германские языки

В статье осуществлен обзор теоретических положений о наративе, определены признаки наративности в тексте. Предлагается сравнение разных подходов в понимании наративности. Делаются выводы, что наратив не простая совокупность элементов, событий и ситуаций, а принцип их конфигураций. Определена темпоральная структура наратива, а формальная структура любого наратива представляется определенной целесностью, сформированной из начала, средины и окончания.

Ключевые слова: дискурс, интерпретация текста, наратив, наратор, непрямая речь, персонаж, текст, формальная структура


Deviatykh Yulia Volodymyrivna
Yuriy Fedkovych Chernivtsi National University
Post graduate student at English Department, speciality 10.02.04 – Germanic Languages

The article presents an overview of the theoretical aspects of narrative as well as defines the features of narrativity of a text. Comparison of different approaches in the understanding of narrativity is offered in this paper. A conclusion has been made that narrative is not a simple set of elements, events and situations, but the principle of their configurations. The temporal structure of narrative has been determined, however the formal structure of any narrative is presented by a certain integrity of exposition, complication and resolution.

Keywords: character, discourse, formal structure, indirect speech, narration, narrator, text, text interpretation

Библиографическая ссылка на статью:
Девятых Ю.В. Literary Narrative in Modern Text Theory // Филология и литературоведение. 2015. № 5 [Электронный ресурс]. URL: https://philology.snauka.ru/2015/05/1395 (дата обращения: 14.05.2024).

Linguistics of narrative relates to the modern fields of Philology. Paducheva E. V. was one of the first eastern European linguists who determined its object and purpose in 1995. The development of this field is considered to be very promising, as “linguistic analysis of literary narrative comes to an understanding of its meaning by all means” [1, p. 88]. Research of British postcolonial novel with due consideration of narrative characteristics allows to draw conclusions of not only linguistic, but also of functional and semantic nature. This facilitates the movement of literature and linguistics towards each other, which is stimulated by text as a common object of study. One of the urgent tasks of the modern text theory is a research based on text works of  personality, who stands behind the text, i.e. the author’s image, and therefore an integrative approach to reading, analysis and interpretation of a text becomes so important.

The purpose of this research lies in the theoretical generalization of narrative provisions, definition of narrative features in a text, comparison of different approaches to interpretation of narrativity. The objectives of the study include: to systemize opinions of eastern European and Western scholars on phenomenon of narrative; to determine distinctive characteristics of narrative and feature story; to offer our own definition of narrative. Current research was carried out on the basis of a postcolonial novel by C.Phillips “In the Falling Snow” (2009) [2].

The ideas of eastern European researchers (in particular Propp V. Y., Shklovskyi B.V, Tomashevskyi B. V., Bakhtin M. M., Voloshynov V. N., Vinogradov V. V., Lotman Y. M., Uspenskyi B. A.) whose activities are related to different periods of science development, to a great extent lie in the heart of contemporary knowledge about narrative.

In the humanities abroad interest for narrative began to emerge in the 1960s. Such discipline as narratology (the “theory of narrative”) appeared at that time within structuralism school. R. Barthes’ concept that artistic text “has a structure typical for any other text and is easy to analyze” [3, p. 197], had a great impact on a number of researchers.

The main task of linguistics of narrative as it is seen today is to identify “features of the use and interpretation of linguistic elements in the narrative” [4, p. 198]. On the background of various elements, structures with direct, indirect and semi-direct speech are of fundamental importance in the story formation: their functioning can make narrative two-dimensional or even multidimensional, representing not only a narrator’s part, but a character’s part as well. For another thing, concept of relationship categories I and The Other typical for each specific text appears in the structures with direct, indirect and semi-direct speech, which corresponds to anthropocentric approach to the study of speech.

The importance of this aspect of text analysis was pointed out by Voloshynov V. N.: “The most productive, crucial phenomena are syntactic models of direct, indirect and semi-direct speech, modifications of these models and variations of these modifications, which are found in language to represent character’s statements and to include these statements in a coherent monologic context. This, seemingly minor syntactic issue was not considered as an important problem of general linguistic and of fundamental importance”[5, p. 407-408].

In general, we can distinguish between broad and narrow understanding of narrative. Barth R. gives the broadest definition: “There is no way to enlist all existing stories in the world. First of all, the variety of narrative genres is astonishing which, in turn, can be implemented in different substances … The narration could be performed in natural language, both in written and oral forms, with the help of animated and static images, or sign language, but you can synthesize all of these substances as well”[3, c. 196]. According to Barthes R., narrative is used in myths, legends, tales, short stories, epic works, history, tragedy, drama, comedy, pantomime, drawings,

stained glass, movies, local news and conversations.

U. M. Lotman’s point of view is very similar to such concept, the scholar believes that the types of narrative texts (beginning from the texts based on natural language to images on a sheet of paper) form the basis and material for different types of narrative. “All kinds of art can generate narrative forms. Ballet of XVIII-XIX centuries is a narrative form in the art of dance and the Pergamon Altar is a typical narrative text in statuary art. The Baroque created narrative forms in architecture”[6, c. 792]. However, as Lotman U. M. suggested, different narrative forms are organized differently. Verbal story is based, primarily, on addition of new words, phrases, paragraphs, chapters. Internal continuous text (paintings as messages of iconic type) is characterized by the organization of narrative by the means of transformation and internal elements rearrangement. In this regard, any implementation of any sign system can be considered as narrative.

The point of view according to which only written works of literary art (narrow sense) are considered as narrative is more common. Thus, Paducheva E.V. contrasts narrative to conversational discourse primarily on the ground of features of interpretation of linguistic elements.

Considering the question of narrativity in a text in the classical theory of narrative the essence of narration resolves into the fracture of narrative reality through the perspective of narrator’s perception. German scholar Friedemann K. claimed that the reality in a dramatic sense is an event that is happening now, however the reality in an epic sense is, first of all, not an event, which is being narrated, but the story itself. The famous Austrian literary scholar Shtantsel F. also considers “mediation” as a genre feature of narrative texts. This approach is represented in Eastern-European school. Pospelov T. N. notes that “the epic story is always narrated on behalf of someone’s personality. In an epic, a novel, a tale and a story directly or indirectly, the narrator is present as an intermediary between the narrated and the listener, the witness and the interpreter of what has happened” [7, p.233].

The second concept of narrative within a narrow understanding emerged in structuralist narratology. The term “narrative” is contra-distinguished from the term “descriptive” because it does not point to the presence of indirect instance of presentation, but to the structure of material which is being presented. Texts, which are called narrative in structuralist meaning, tell some story, having the temporal structure on the level of depicted world.

The term story suggests the event, some change in the initial situation: either the external one in the narrative world (actions, natural and interactive events) or internal situation of a character (mental event). Lotman U. M. has defined the event as “a character’s move across the border of semantic field” [6, p. 282].

This position is actively supported by Eastern-European scholars. Andreeva K. A. understands narrative as “a story, presentation of events in a certain order” but “the concept of narrative is broader than the story, and the story is just the type of narrative” [8, p. 9]. Popova E. A. gives the following definition: “The narrative is a text which tells about people and events that happen to them in order determined by the speaker” [1, p. 89]. Other researchers believe that the main feature of narrative is the spontaneously built structure, in which events are organised in the form of specific concepts-stories, either claim that narrative usually tells about events which deviate from the usual routine course of life, that are characterized from the point of view of a sender, as some anomaly denial from the norm.

It is indicated in linguistics that primarily narrative has a temporal structure and a formal structure of any narrative is the same; this is a certain integrity, consisting of an exposition, a complication and a resolution. Typically, these parts are interconnected by means of causal connection. Due to such method of communication narrative becomes not just a collection of elements (events, situations) but the principle of their configuration.
To our point of view, there are two concepts of narrative (narrativity as mediation and narrativity as a structure of narrated) that do not compete but mutually complement each other. The structure of narrativity (both temporal and event driven) is organized with the help of a narrator.

According to Vinogradov V. V., it is due to the image of the author that internal unity and text integrity is created. All of his descriptions present an idea of a central role in the piece of work: “The image of the author comprises all structural qualities of a verbal and artistic unity” [9, p. 211]. The author’s image – is not an easy subject of speech, often it is not mentioned in the structure of fiction. It is concentrated embodiment of the essence of some piece of work  that is an ideological and stylistic center of a unity. In relation to one piece of work author’s image is treated as an individual verbal and linguistic structure that permeates the course of fiction and the relationship and interaction of all its elements.

In the narrator’s study crucial meaning is given to correlation of author’s speech (narrator, teller) and character’s speech, in other words to the compositional and linguistic structure of the text. The language of fiction consists of different types of monologue and dialogue with various forms of oral and written language mixture. It incorporates these constitutive types of language not as a natural feature of everyday speech, but exposing them to some alteration in terms of certain composition pursuit, transporting them into the context of literature. Forms of complicated construction mixture are presented in fiction narration, where principles of oral and written speech intercross, on the one hand, dialogic and monologic coherence, on the other hand, and then again poetic or prosaic methods of construction. A variety of interactions, which occur in the intersection of these principles leads to wealth and diversity of linguistic composition [10, p. 168-169].

It is also important to note that there is no way to automatically exclude texts with descriptive features from the the concept of “narrative”. In addition, the boundaries between narrative and descriptive pieces of art are not always clear. Almost every narrative inevitably contains descriptive elements. Eventfulness itself as a core foundation of any narrative might include not only actions but to be also of mental nature. Formation of narrative structures based on description could be found, for example, in the novels of C.Phillips: we are dealing with a plot that is formed not by events, but by thoughts and feelings of characters, provoked by those events and circumstances, events of mental nature are outlined here.

“He stands by the gate to the school and studies the scruffy parade of boys trooping out with bags slung casually over one shoulder, ties flapping over the other, shoelaces undone, and hair uncombed. There is no point in his getting too judgmental for, although he would like to imagine otherwise, some part of him knows that he almost certainly looked just as unkempt when he was a sixth-former. And then he sees Laurie, loping across the playground by himself, the same pair of expensive oversized headphones jammed on to his head, and his body gently bobbing to the beat of the music. He knows that his son has seen him, but it is not until Laurie is only a few feet away that he reaches up and literally pulls the headphones down to his neck, and then he gives his father that upward nod that begins with his chin.”  [2, p.11]

To sum up everything mentioned above, we would like to define the term “narrative” as following: it is an artistic narrative text which has an event-driven structure, organized with the narrator’s help. The perspective of further research is seen in consideration of the elements of the text structure, including indirect speech. As an elementary text structure, indirect speech is found in all works of British literature, however writers of the late XIX – XX centuries consider indirect speech as a special tool for creating a multidimensional story. This period in literature is characterized by a tendency to destroy the borders between narrator and character, which reflects the anthropocentric nature and orientation of literature. A person is treated as the highest value of the world, and thus, their thoughts and feelings, the ability towards reflection become the object of an artistic and aesthetic understanding of reality.

  1. Popova E. A. (2001), O lingvistike narrativa // Filologicheskiye nauki [About Linguistcs of Narrative. Philological sciences], no.4, pp. 87-90.
  2. Phillips C. In the Falling Snow. – NY: Vintage books, 2009 – 320 p.
  3. Barth R. (2000), Vvedenie v strukturnyi analiz povestvovatelnykh tekstov, Frantsuzkaya semiotika: Ot strukturalizma k poststrukturalizmy [Introduction to Structural Analysis of Narrative Texts, French Semiotics: From structuralism to Poststructuralism], Progress Publ., Moscow, Russia, pp.196-237.
  4. Paducheva E. V. (1996) Semanticheskiye Issledovaniya. Semantika vremeni i vida v russkom yazyke. Semantika narrativa, Yazyki russkoi kultury [Semantics Studies. Tense and Aspect Semantics in Russian. Narrative Semantics. Languages of Russian Culture] Moscow, Russia, 464 p.
  5. Voloshynov V. N. [Bakhtin M. M.] (1993), Marksizm i filosofiya yazyka [Marxism and the philosophy of language], Labirint Publ., Moscow, Russia, 188 p.
  6. Lotman U. M. (1958 – 1993) O russkoy literatureStattyi i issledovaniya. Istoriya russkoi prozy. Teoriya Literatury [About Russian Literature. Articles and investigations. The History of Russian Prose. The Theory of Literature], Isskustvo Publ., Sankt-Peterburg, Russia, 845 p.
  7. Valgina N. S. (1988), Teoriya Teksta: Uchebnoye Posobiye [Text Theory: Study Guide], Logos Publ., Moscow, Russia, 527 p.
  8. Andreeva K. A. (1996), Grammatika i poetika narrativa [Grammar and Poetics of Narrative], TTU Publ., Tiumen, Russia, 192 p.
  9. Vinogradov V. V. (1971), O teorii khudoghestvennoi rechi. Uchebnoye posobiye dlia filolspetsun-tov i ped in-tov [About the theory of literary discourse. Study Guide for Departments of Philology and Teacher’s Training Colleges], Vysshaya Shkola Publ., Moscow, Russia, 240 p.
  10. Vinogradov V. V. (1997), K postroyeniyu teorii poeticheskogo yazyka. Ruskaya slovesnost. Ot teorii slovesnosti k strukture teksta. Antologiya pod red. V. P. Neroznaka [To the Construction of Theory of Poetic Language. Russian Philology. From the Theory of Philology to the Structure of Text. Antology edited by Neroznak V. P.], Akademiya Publ., Moscow, Russia, pp. 168-169.

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