International Conference on Narrative 2016

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Title: Under the Surface– On First-Person, Behaviorist Narration and Affective This paper focuses on behaviorist narratives written in first-person (both in the present and past tense) – illustrated by two novels of the Danish minimalist author, Helle Helle: This Should be Written in the Present Tense (English translation published 2014) and Hvis det er (If it is) (2014). Behaviorist narratives are characterized by external focalization and thus restricted to the conveyance of the character’s behavior (actions, appearance and words) offering the reader little direct access to the feelings and thoughts of not only other characters in the storyworld but also the first-person narrator (hereafter FPN) – that is both ‘the narrating self’ and ‘the experiencing self’. In this type of narrative the narrator also sustains from direct reflection, interpretation and commentary – not revealing his/her own mental activity. The aim of this paper is twofold. In dialogue with Dorrit Cohn’s work I first wish to discuss the narratological implications of (internal vs. external) focalization in behaviorist simultaneous and retrospective narration. Thereby I wish to challenge the view that internal focalization dominates personal narration. Secondly, I wish to argue that when taking an affective narratological stance towards this type of fiction it is (despite the narrator’s lack of introspection) revealed that behaviorist narration contains a good deal more information about the FPN’s feelings and thoughts than has generally been credited for. Inspired by Patrick Colm Hogan’s Affective Narratology (2011) and Roger Fowler’s (1977: 103) term ‘mindstyle’ I will form my analysis of Helle’s two novels as an investigation of the narrator-protagonists’ mindstyle as revealed by his/her specific way of narrating and conceptualizing (e.g. narrative structure, ellipsis, paralipsis etc.). For this reason the FPN’s mind-style is an important key offering the reader to access a mental profile of the PFN.
Period16. Jun 201618. Jun 2016
Event typeConference
LocationAmsterdam, NetherlandsShow on map