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Narrative as Communication

1989
Author:

Didier Coste
Foreword by Wlad Godzich

Narrative as Communication

The first major treatise on narrative and narrative theory to make use of all the analytic tools developed in the last two decades.

The first major treatise on narrative and narrative theory to make use of all the analytic tools developed in the last two decades.

“[Coste’s] presentation of the crucial topics of narrative syntax and voice is impeccable . . . Superior to even the best works on narratology published in the past decade, this indispensable volume will be at the core of all collections on the theoretical study of narrative.” Choice

Narrative as Communication is the first major treatise on narrative and narrative theory to make use of all the analytic tools developed in the twenty years. Intended as an up-to-date introduction, it carefully defines narrative discourse, distinguishing it from other discourses, and analyzes what it entails by referring to numerous examples spanning a wide range of media and literary works. At the same time, it orients narrative theory in the current debates surrounding the “New Historicism” and postmodern ideology, showing that theories of narrative are necessarily central to any understanding of history.

Not restricted to any single genre, Coste’s text emphasizes the production of narrative meaning in diverse contexts: The Epic of Gilgamesh, a John Ford film classic, French American, and Spanish new fiction, Dante, Shakespeare, the pastoral, the fairy tale, The Communist Manifesto, Prescott’s History of the Conquest of Peru, a painting by Gustave Moreau. Coste thoroughly and critically examines the usual concepts of voice, character, point of view and narrative syntax, and he develops radical revisions in the notion of fictionality, character, narrative economy and the function of narrative meaning itself. The book is a remarkable synthesis that will likely become a reference for future studies in narratology.

Narrative as Communication

Didier Coste is professor of French at San Diego State University. Wlad Godzich is professor of comparative literature at the Universite de Montreal and co-editor of the Theory and History of Literature series.

Narrative as Communication

“[Coste’s] presentation of the crucial topics of narrative syntax and voice is impeccable . . . Superior to even the best works on narratology published in the past decade, this indispensable volume will be at the core of all collections on the theoretical study of narrative.” Choice

“Narrative is not necessarily a baggy monster but it certainly is a hairy one: to expose all its parts is to risk being devoured. Didier Coste courageously takes that risk in this most comprehensive narratology to date, and he emerges victorious. It is safe to say that no one has treated the matter so exhaustively.” STCL