There are many kinds of narrative, and many kinds of novel. But critics none the less continue to take the realist novel as the norm for fiction, and to assimilate other forms to it. Many of them still understand fiction in terms that have been developed in response to the realist novel, and their reading habits are still largely those fostered by the realist novel. As a result, forms of narrative which actually ask to be understood in quite different terms are frequently misread. More than twenty years ago, in The Nature of Narrative, Scholes and Kellogg argued that ‘the tendency to apply the standards of nineteenth-century realism to all fiction naturally has disadvantages for our understanding of every other kind of narrative’.1 Fresh critical approaches to the novel have emerged since then, and various critics have begun to free some of the ‘other kinds of narrative‘ from the alien constraints too often imposed on them.2 But even so, a glance at much of the most recent work on Richardson or Joyce, for instance, suggests that the old, well-established modes of reading are still dominant. In novels — and even anti-novels — where elements of the mimetic persist, most readers seem inclined to understand the text in mimetic terms, or to move from the basis of a mimetic reading to other forms of reading. It is still unusual to find a narrative text approached primarily in terms of its intrinsic logic; as, firstly, an activity of mind, rather than a set of representations.


Literary Discourse Plural Subject Narrative Coherence Narrative Discourse Rhetorical Figure 
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Copyright information

© Andrew Gibson 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Gibson
    • 1
  1. 1.Royal Holloway and Bedford New CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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