Reconsidering the unreliable narrator

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The concept of the unreliable narrator is among the most discussed in current narratology. From being considered a text-internal matter between the personified narrator and the implied author by Booth, or the implied reader by Chatman, cognitive and constructivist narrative theorists like A. Nünning have described it as a reader-dependent issue. The detection of a narrator's unreliability is an act of ‘naturalization,' he claims, with reference to Culler.

This article concentrates on this long and ongoing debate and considers the different approaches critically with special attention to the position of A. Nünning. In the final section, a four-category taxonomy for the different textual strategies that establishes unreliable narration is suggested. The headlines for the taxonomy are intranarrational unreliability, internarrational unreliability, intertextual unreliability, and extratextual unreliability.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1/4
Pages (from-to)227-246
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • unreliable narrator
  • narration
  • narratology


Dive into the research topics of 'Reconsidering the unreliable narrator'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this