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Title:The Essentials of Narrative: A Synthesis of the West and the East
Author(s):Zheng, Xueqin
Director of Research:Palencia-Roth, Michael
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Palencia-Roth, Michael
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Chai, Leon; Pan, Da'an
Department / Program:Comparative & World Literature
Discipline:Comparative Literature
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Comparative literature
literature and linguistics
Abstract:This is a study on the nature of narrative in light of a narratological theory inspired by a comparison of narratives in the West and the East, and which tries to reach a deeper understanding of narratives in their particular cultural milieus as well as the nature of narrative per se. The macroscopic structure which the subject itself demands gives coherence to the study of elements which do not solely belong to narrative texts but nevertheless are essential for a text to function as a narrative. The essentials under investigation are the narrator's perspective (which gives a narrative its internal structure), language (which both enables and affects the formation of narrative), and the notion of genre (which plays a crucial role in the interpretation of narrative). These elements were selected after a consideration of theorles postulated by Erich Auerbach, Northrop Frye, Fredric Jameson and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as of the key properties of narrative as traditionally treated in Chinese scholarship on narrative. After the initial chapter, each chapter consists of a theoretical discussion on the main topic, followed by an analysis of a particular aspect of the subject as revealed in an American novel and in a Chinese novel. These subjects in elude the internal structure of narrative, fictionalization, the objectivity of language and the diversity of voices, the potentiality of language and the elosure of narrative, plot and the ordering of a narrative, and fragmentarity and the perceiving of a narrative. In theoretical discussions, the essay challenges theories proposed by Wayne Booth, Michel Foucault, Umberto Eco, Stanley Fish, Roman Jakobson, Jacques Derrida, Jonathan Culler and Tzvetan Todorov. The major texts discussed are Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady, Luo Guanzhong's Three Kingdoms, William Faulkner's Absalom. Absalom!, Cao Xueqin's Dream of the Red Chamber. Edgar Allan Poe's "Ligeia," and Liu E's The Travels of Laocan. The central idea of the research is to question such assumptions as made by Anthony Burgess in his article on the novel in The Encyelopaedia Britannica (15th ed) that "novelists, being neither poets nor philosophers, rarely originate modes of thinking and expression."
Issue Date:1997
Genre:Dissertation / Thesis
Rights Information:Copyright 1997 Xueqin Zheng
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-08-11

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