Antinarrative

From Narrative
Jump to: navigation, search

An antinarrative is a narrative that calls into question or plays with the traditional concept of a narrative.

Contents

Definition

Challenging the traditional conventions surrounding the concept of a narrative, an antinarrative makes use of those conventions to call attention to itself and the practices and modes being used to convey meaning to an audience. Many times ironic, antinarratives implicitly question the validity of conventional narrative logic and the structural aspects and strategies of a narrative in general.

Examples

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, "No, I don't want to watch TV!" Raise your voice--they won't hear you otherwise--"I'm reading! I don't want to be disturbed!" Maybe they haven't heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell; "I'm beginning to read Italo Calvino's new novel!" Or if you prefer, don't say anything; just hope they'll leave you alone...it's not that you expect anything in particular from this particular book. You're the sort of person who, on principle, no longer expects anything of anything. There are plenty, younger than you or less young, who live in the expectation of extraordinary experiences: from books, from people, from journeys, from events, from what tomorrow has in store. But not you. You know that the best you can expect is to avoid the worst. This is the conclusion you have reached, in your personal life and also in general matters, even international affairs. What about books? Well, precisely because you have denied it in every other field, you believe you may still grant yourself legitimately this youthful pleasure of expectation in a carefully circumscribed area like the field of books, where you can be lucky or unlucky, but the risk of disappointment isn't serious." -Calvino, Italo. If on a winter's night a traveler

This passage illustrates aspects of "antinarrative" in that Calvino is clearly aware of the novelistic conventions he is breaking, not just in his manner of addressing the reader, but in also demonstrating awareness of the reading process and the expectations of the "modern" reader.


Wallace, David Foster. Infinite Jest

Wallace's novel is full of footnotes which fill in missing gaps in the narrative and form a part of it (unlike traditional explanatory footnotes) as well as out-of-order passages which require one to follow just one storyline and return to the others to form a complete picture. These techniques Wallace uses to call attention to the conventions of narrative by overtly breaking them.

Critical Debates

{is the term contested, challenged, defined differently, etc.?}

Related Terms

narrative, embedded narrative, framing narrative

References

Herman, David and Manfred Jahn, Marie-Laure Ryan. Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory.

Prince, Gerald. Dictionary of Narratology.

Personal tools
Namespaces
Variants
Actions
Navigation
Toolbox