Peter Barry
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This chapter deals with narratology, the study of narrative structures. Narratology is not the reading and interpretation of individual stories, but the attempt to study the nature of 'story' itself, as a concept and as a cultural practice. The distinction between 'story' and 'plot' is fundamental to narratology, but the story of narratology itself is that there are many competing groups. The chapter presents a truncated 'history' of narratology, centred on three main characters, such as Aristotle, Vladimir Propp, and Gerard Genette. It explains that stories are not always presented 'straight'; often writers make use of 'frame narratives', which contain within them 'embedded narratives'. A STOP and THINK section in the chapter helps readers ponder over the striking aspects of narratology. It describes the activities of narratologists and uses Edgar Allan Poe's tale 'The Oval Portrait' to give an impression of how 'joined-up' narratology might look in practice.

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Beginning theory (fourth edition)

An introduction to literary and cultural theory


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