Coincidence and Counterfactuality: Plotting Time and Space by Hilary P. Dannenberg

By Hilary P. Dannenberg

In Coincidence and Counterfactuality, a groundbreaking research of plot, Hilary P. Dannenberg units out to reply to the perennial query of the way to inform a great tale. whereas plot is without doubt one of the such a lot imperative elements of storytelling, it really is probably the least studied point of narrative. utilizing plot idea to chart the advance of narrative fiction from the Renaissance to the current, Dannenberg demonstrates how the radical has advanced over the years and the way writers have built more and more complicated narrative suggestions that faucet into key cognitive parameters typical to the reader from real-life experience.
Dannenberg proposes a brand new, multidimensional thought for studying time and area in narrative fiction, then makes use of this idea to track the ancient evolution of narrative fiction through concentrating on accident and counterfactuality. those key plot strategies are built round pivotal moments while characters’ lifestyles trajectories, or occasionally the trails of historical past, converge or diverge. The study’s wealthy old and textual scope finds how narrative traditions and genres reminiscent of romance and realism or technology fiction and historiographic metafiction, instead of being separated by way of transparent obstacles are in reality in a continuous strategy of interplay and cross-fertilization. In highlighting serious levels within the historic improvement of narrative fiction, the examine produces new readings of works via pinpointing the cutting edge function performed by means of specific authors during this evolutionary procedure. Dannenberg’s unique research of plot styles is interdisciplinary, incorporating learn from narrative conception, cognitive ways to literature, social psychology, attainable worlds concept, and feminist ways to narrative.

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Extra resources for Coincidence and Counterfactuality: Plotting Time and Space in Narrative Fiction (Frontiers of Narrative)

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Though, as a matter of fact, coincidences are much rarer than we suppose. ” To [Mr. Beebe’s] relief, George began to talk. “It is. I have reflected. It is Fate. Everything is Fate. ” (Forster 1978, 147) George Emerson’s understanding of fate invokes inexorable causal-manipulative forces operating outside his control or comprehension. Mr. Beebe, on the other hand, tells George off for believing in fate and speaks in favor of his ability to causally affect or manipulate his environment: “You have not reflected at all,” rapped the clergyman.

The tracing of kinship connections involves both the networking of characters by mapping progenerative lines back to previous generations as well as analogical links involving the perception of genetic similarities. Kinship in the Coincidence Plot Jane Eyre is a prime example of how narrative uses the cognitive plot of kinship. The submerged causal explanation of the novel’s central coincidence (as discussed above) expresses a sense of “sympathies . . between far-distant, longabsent, wholly estranged relatives asserting .

Gerrig (1993, 1996) calls this the “resiliency” of suspense, Carroll (1996) the “paradox” of suspense (see also the discussion in Ryan 2001, 145–48). The processes of liminal plotting and double immersion can be used to explain this phenomenon: they work to suppress the recipient’s conscious knowledge of the actual outcome of events precisely because they create two overriding levels of mental activity centering on events in the fictional world. First, the precarious situation in the narrative here and now (the characters sitting while there is a bomb under the table) draws the recipient into the narrative world so effectively that he experiences the fictional time relations as if they were his own.

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