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Narrative across versions: narratology meets genetic criticism

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

What can narrative theory and analysis learn from the study of sketches, notes, and manuscripts? Leading narratologists, such as Dorrit Cohn, Gérard Genette, and Franz K. Stanzel, have visited the factory of the text, as Genette calls it, to corroborate an argument about the nature of narrative in general or the composition of a particular narrative. However, these excursions have not led to a principled dialogue between genetic criticism and narrative theory. By following major narratologists on their paths to versions of narratives, this essay investigates the possibilities of combining narrative theory and narratological analysis, on the one hand, with manuscript studies and genetic criticism, on the other hand. To specify our claims about this interdisciplinary combination of approaches—the study of narrative across versions—we analyze two works that challenge narrative conventions, “Lessness” and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett. This two-part case study focuses on the levels of “narrative” and “narration,” respectively, and shows how, on the one hand, genetic criticism can provide data to corroborate a narratological analysis and how, on the other hand, narratology can serve as an aid to the genetic examination of the narrative’s development across versions.
Journal: Poetics Today
ISSN: 0333-5372
Issue: 3
Volume: 34
Pages: 281 - 326
Publication year:2013