Book in Focus
A Theory of Narrative"/>

16th January 2023

Book in Focus
A Theory of Narrative

By Dr Alojzija Zupan Sosič  

We all love to tell, listen to, watch and read different stories. To make them easier to read, understand and interpret (but also to narrate and write), the new scientific monograph, A Theory of Narrative, will suffice. The author Alojzija Zupan Sosič, a Full Professor at the Department of Slovene Studies at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, has gone beyond narrow frameworks to produce one of the fundamental recent works within the field of literary science in Slovenia. For this reason, the book's value lies in its exceptional breadth and precision, as well as its transparency, readability and applicability.

The first chapter of the book encourages us to think about the narrator: in contemporary times, the role of narrator seems to be a particularly prominent one. The key distinction between the narrators of today and their predecessors is the recdent “narrative turn”, which is to say that our understanding of narrative is transforming into a broadly acknowledged concept and elicits the emergence of a new science. In other words, narratology, whose flourishing made the split between classical and postclassical theory inevitabile.

A Theory of Narrative seeks to encompass multiple reflections on narrative and to facilitate the conceptualisation of this phenomenon, its structure and extra-textual factors through the perspective of the narrative itself. Narrative is viewed not only as a piece of art but also as an element of everyday life, although the literary narrative remains the primary focus of the exploration. Targeting different reader profiles, the book is conceived as a hybrid scholarly monograph. The book’s structure and methodology are based on the structure and methodology of classical and postclassical narratology. Its status as a scientific monograph is reflected throughout with elaborate and firmly-concluded chapters that tackle topics relating to the latest findings in international literary science.

The book's high level of usability is realised by its logically linked parts, as well as condensed (and occasionally oversimplified) explanations that provide specific examples, including in the form of literary paragraphs. Given that contemporary narrative theory is based on the findings of classical narratology, the chapters follow the classical theory of narration combined with the features of postclassical approaches. The author is aware that there is not only one theory of narrative and interweaves different theories throughout. In her theory of narrative, she uses the interpretative-analytical comparative method and different approaches of (post)structuralism, deconstruction and literary semiotics, as well as feminist narratology and gender narratology. This combined approach takes into account cultural studies as works of cultural narratology and emphasizes interdisciplinarity when researching literary texts. At the same time, it expresses the idea that narrative forms, as all components of culture, are not supra-historical or supra-cultural identities, but changing forms of human existence.

A Theory of Narrative differs from related titles in this field because it introduces a number of novelties, including upgrading the theory of the hitherto largely ignored category of the unreliable narrator with aspects pertaining to so-called "unreliable readers". The book also introduces three new categories that have so far been used to refer exclusively to unreliable narrators (commentators, interpreters and evaluators), proposing a classification of narration and narrative in terms of narrow and broad perceptions respectively. It also conceptualises and reconciles the third mode of articulation of speech representation to the existing two.

In an attempt to look beyond the Western canon, still dominated by the “Dead White European Males”, the book intentionally draws on the treasury of concealed and ignored writers. In line with the ethical principles of contemporary narratology, A Theory of Narrative focuses on the stories of women, sexual and gender minorities, and the representatives of “small” and/ or non-European literatures. In this manner, narrative texts are not explored as sheer aesthetic objects, but also as battlefields between superior and inferior groups of society in a quest for power. In terms of narrative elements, the book focuses on the link between two narrative elements that have not previously been systematically researched: namely, beginnings and endings.

Key words: narrative, narrative turn, modes of wording, narrative elements

Dr Alojzija Zupan Sosič is a Full Professor of Slovene Literature at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana. She is the editor of two anthologies of contemporary Slovene literature, a collection of Slovene erotic poetry and a volume of Slovene short stories. She also published four scholarly monographs, three of which examine the various aspects of the contemporary Slovene novel. Her fields of expertise are the contemporary Slovene novel, Slovene literature in a comparative world context, Slovene love poetry, the theory of narrative, gender identity, queer theory, and literary interpretation.

A Theory of Narrative is available now at a 25% discount. Enter code PROMO25 to redeem.

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