Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Leituras (1)

"John left" or "John was tall" are as close as narrative can come to stage imitation, an actor walking into the wings or the choice of a tall rather than short actor. So it seems reasonable to call the narrative statements of such actions and presentations "unnarrated." But "John left, unfortunately" or "John was tall, unfortunately" necessarily presuppose a speaker who has taken it upon himself to judge what is and what is not unfortunate. They are clearly interpretive statements, and interpretation implies a narrator.
In the strict sense, of course, all statements are "mediated” since they are composed by someone. Even dialogue has to be invented by an author. But it is quite clear (well established in theory and criticism) that we must distinguish between the narrator, or speaker, the one currently "telling" the story, and the author, the ultimate designer of the fable, who also decides, for example, whether to have a narrator, and if so, how prominent he should be. It is a fundamental convention to ignore the author, but not the narrator. The narrator may be overt - a real character (Conrad's Marlow) or an intrusive outside party (the narrator of Tom Jones). Or he may be "absent,’' as in some of Hemingway's or Dorothy Parker's stories containing only dialogue and uncommented-upon action. The "narrator,’' when he appears, is a demonstrable, recognizable entity immanent to the narrative itself. Every narrative, even one wholly "shown" or unmediated, finally has an author, the one who devised it. But "narrator" should not be used in that sense. Rather it should mean only the someone - person or presence - actually telling the story to an audience, no matter how minimally evoked his voice or the audience’s listening ear.


(Seymour Chatman, Story and Discourse, Narrative Structure
in Fiction and Film
, Cornell University Press, 1978)