Duration

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Duration describes the disparity between the actual time of an event and the time it takes for a narrator to recount it.

Contents

Definition

Frequently, the actual "real time" of an event and the time a narrator uses to tell it are quite unequal. This disparity between "real time" and the time used to narrate the event is called duration, a term coined by Gerard Genette in his book Narrative Discourse. Sometimes a brief event will take a narrator several pages to recount, while a long, drawn-out event will take only several sentences. The duration therefore depends on the will and intent of the narrator--what he or she deems important to expand upon.

Examples

"There stood, facing the open window, a comfortable, roomy armchair. Into this she sank, pressed down by a physical exhaustion that haunted her body and seemed to reach into her soul.

She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.

There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window."

-Kate Chopin, "The Story of an Hour"

Critical Debates

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

Related Terms

{list any terms that are related or usefully connected to this term or concept (e.g., list story under the definition of discourse)}

References

Genette, Gerard. Narrative Discourse.

Martin, Wallace. Recent Theories of Narrative.

Bal, Mieke. Introduction to the Theory of Narrative.

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