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Disputable Core Concepts of Narrative Theory

Edited By Göran Rossholm and Christer Johansson

The present volume is a contribution to the theory of narrative by scholars from various disciplines, mainly scholars from Comparative Literature but also contributors from Philosophy, Psychology and the languages. The essays focus on central terms and concepts in narrative theory over the last forty years. Established narratological concepts, such as narrative, narrator, story, fiction, character, narrative (un)reliability and point of view, but also relational concepts motivated by the expansion of narratology, such as narrative and non-verbal media, narrative and personal identity and narrative and literary genre, are themes dealt with.
In addition to presenting a critical examination of the core concepts of narrative theory, the volume is a demonstration of the vigour of contemporary Nordic narrative theory. The authors work at universities in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway and Sweden, and they all belong to the Nordic Network of Narrative Studies.


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ANNIKEN GREVE - Form, Sense and Nonsense. With Examples from Wittgenstein and Kafka 253


ANNIKEN GREVE Form, Sense and Nonsense. With Examples from Wittgenstein and Kafka Conceptions of form Attention to form is generally recognized as one of the hallmarks of scholarly engagement in literary texts. One reason for this is the wide- spread assumption that such texts exhibit an internal relation between form and content. So even if our ultimate interest is not with form but with content, we need to pay attention to form. Different conceptions of form have been developed by differ- ent schools within literary theory. Several of the most influential schools have developed what I will call a medial conception of form: To attend to the form of the text is to attend to the ways in which the text makes use of the medium of language. Both formalist and structuralist conceptions of form fall into this category. The hard- core structuralists thought of form as convention; they took literary texts to be generated by a second-order lingustic system or code. The Russian formalists, on the other hand, and in particular the most interesting of them, Viktor Shklovsky, conceived of form as device, that is, essentially as deviation from convention or linguistic habits: form occurs with and in the textual break with conventional modes of expression (Shklovsky 1990). According to both these medial conceptions of form, the func- tion of the form will be determined by how it relates to conventions or linguistic habits. If the text in question follows such conventions the function of its form will be...

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