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Recent Trends in Narratological Research

John Pier

A Model of Narrative Discourse along Pronominal Lines1

Dieter Meindl


The proposed model foregrounds the category PERSON by following E. Benveniste as to the fundamental disparity between the first and second grammatical persons, on the one hand, and the third person, on the other. My argument runs as follows: A statement about reality is in the first person, that is, made by its author. Third-person narrative fiction is a legitimate notion, given the displacement it enacts between the author and a narrating agency that does not share its realm of existence with the narrated characters (F. Stanzel). Third — and firstperson narrative can be structurally differentiated as to qualitative scope ([un-]reliability) and quantitative reach. Basically, both narrative types show the same interplay of the registers of enunciation and illusion: the narrating agency dissolves in evoking a world and emerges by commenting on it (a "narrator" does not narrate, but, in H. Weinrich's sense of the term, comments). Comment (which is general in subject matter and abstract in manner), report (particular and abstract), scene (particular and concrete), and metaphor (general and concrete) demarcate a frame of reference for narrative discourse that subsumes description. With third-person narrative, this frame of reference has a tendency to transcend itself toward the sphere of reality statements via comment (authorial "I"/"you") and toward first-person narrative via scene, given that, in third-person narrative, the speech of a character about his/her reality is a first-person narrative in nuce. The transposition principle at work between third — and first-person narrative and all further embedded narratives consists in the fact that narrative subject/object structure (K. Hamburger) vanishes in one frame of reference only by reemerging in another. The modes of conveying character thought and speech in fiction can be conceived in terms of complete or partial transposition of narrative discourse to a subordinate frame of reference. Regarding free indirect discourse, G. Genette's distinction between focalization and (narratorial) voice must be challenged as contradicted by our reading experience. Second-person narrative, whose special affinity for the depiction of consciousness is explicable from the angle of "natural" narratology (M. Fludernik), can be basically modeled on first-person narrative