"Phenomenology, Cognition and the Question of Intention in Anti-Narrative Fiction"

Activity: Talks and presentationsTalks and presentations in private or public companies


Although the notion of anti-narration is vague and not fully discussed, I will in this presentation nonetheless deal with textual phenomena such as minimalism, text fragmentation, text digression, metalepsis as anti-narrative techniques used by writers as foregrounding devices to capture the readers attention. This foregrounding has different purposes, one is cognitive desautomatization - or to borrow Shklovskys expression - defamiliarisation. Foregrounding is the opposite of automatization: "the intentional violation of the norm of the standard" (Jan Mukarovsky 1932: 18). What anti-narrative strategies in some extent might violate is the story schemata - that is a set of expectations about the way in which stories proceeds, their patterns of organization. Paul Ricoeur claims in Time and Narrative that the plot, "the configurational arrangement transforms the succession of events into one meaningful hole" (1983; I: 76). This is what makes the story followable and therefore foreseeable. The anti-narrative strategies consist in frustrating the reader expectation of an immediately intelligible configuration. This strategy of frustration is according to Ricoeur incorporated in the text and it leaves a room for the reader's creative activity. It diminishes the reader's ability to predict how the text will proceed considerable. Stimulated by narrative interruptions and information gabs in anti-narratives - the lack of determinacy - we might as readers feel invited to be a very creative part in constructing a meaning. Reading then reveals an excess of meaning and even a systematically fragmentary text is in terms of reading inexhaustible.

This presentation aims at discussing how to deal with these anti-narrative strategies methodologically, since anti-narratives incoherence bring the creative role of the reader into focus. But does the vocabulary of the narratology give us adequate tools to deal with reader interference and the intentional anti-narrative strategies of the author? One way to deal with such issues is to draw on methodological principles of the phenomenological and cognitive theories and their conceptions. I will argue that anti-narrative fiction in some extend still guides the reader. The short story "Tide" (1997) by The Danish author Simon Fruelund will serve as illustration.


Emneord: narratology, phenomenology, Cognitive Narratology, Intentionality
Period23. Jun 2007
Event titleNarrators, Authors and the Question of Intention
Event typeConference
OrganiserILKM, Center for Narratologiske Studier & HCA forskerskolen
LocationKolding, DenmarkShow on map


  • narratology
  • phenomenology
  • Cognitive Narratology
  • Intentionality