Optional-Narrator Theory


Optional-Narrator Theory

Principles, Perspectives, Proposals

Edited by Sylvie Patron

Frontiers of Narrative Series

318 pages
3 illustrations, index


February 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

February 2021


$65.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Twentieth-century narratology fostered the assumption, which distinguishes narratology from previous narrative theories, that all narratives have a narrator. Since the first formulations of this assumption, however, voices have come forward to denounce oversimplifications and dangerous confusions of issues. Optional-Narrator Theory is the first collection of essays to focus exclusively on the narrator from the perspective of optional-narrator theories.

Sylvie Patron is a prominent advocate of optional-narrator theories, and her collection boasts essays by many prominent scholars—including Jonathan Culler and John Brenkman—and covers a breadth of genres, from biblical narrative to poetry to comics. This volume bolsters the dialogue among optional-narrator and pan-narrator theorists across multiple fields of research. These essays make a strong intervention in narratology, pushing back against the widespread belief among narrative theorists in general and theorists of the novel in particular that the presence of a fictional narrator is a defining feature of fictional narratives. This topic is an important one for narrative theory and thus also for literary practice.

Optional-Narrator Theory advances a range of arguments for dispensing with the narrator, except when it can be said that the author actually “created” a fictional narrator.

Author Bio

Sylvie Patron is a senior lecturer and research supervisor at Université de Paris. She is the author or editor of several books on narrative theory in French and English, including The Death of the Narrator and Other Essays.


“This is a strong contribution to a centrally important concept of narrative theory. The essays provide quite rich and varied reasons to question the assumption that every narrative has a narrator, and Sylvie Patron gives a detailed account of the background to this debate in her introduction. Her account is clear, thorough, indeed magisterial.”—Ann Banfield, author of Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Sylvie Patron
Part 1. Optional-Narrator Theory in Literary Studies
1. Some Problems concerning Narrators of Novels and Speakers of Poems
Jonathan Culler
2. Implied Authors and Imposed Narrators—or Actual Authors?
Brian Boyd
3. Real Authors, Real Narrators, and the Rhetoric of Fiction
Vincenz Pieper
4. Voice and Time
John Brenkman
5. The Narrator: A Historical and Epistemological Approach to Narrative Theory
Sylvie Patron
6. Biblical Narrative and the Death of the Narrator
Robert S. Kawashima
7. The Narrator in Biblical Narratives
Greger Andersson
8. Narrator Theory and Medieval English Narratives
A. C. Spearing
9. Marquis de Sade’s Narrative Despotism: The Mystified Magistrate and The Misfortunes of Virtue
Marc Hersant
Part 2. Optional-Narrator Theory before and beyond Literature
10. Silent Self and the Deictic Imaginary: Hamburger’s Radical Insight
Mary Galbraith
11. Aesthetic Theory Meets Optional-Narrator Theory
Lars-Åke Skalin
12. The Vanishing Narrator Meets the Fundamental Narrator: On the Literary Historical and Transmedial Limitations of the Narrator Concept
Kai Mikkonen
13. A Paradox of Cinematic Narration
Paisley Livingston

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