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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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JAKOB LOTHE - Verbal Narrative and Visual Image: Trains and Railways in W. G. Sebald’s “Paul Bereyter” and Austerlitz 307


JAKOB LOTHE Verbal Narrative and Visual Image: Trains and Railways in W. G. Sebald’s “Paul Bereyter” and Austerlitz One striking feature of the writings of the German-British author W. G. Sebald is the combination of visual image and verbal text. In Sebald’s books uncaptioned visual images are typically inserted into the body of the text, thus establishing a complex interplay of visual representation and verbal communication. Focusing on visual and verbal aspects of narrative, this essay will discuss the beginnings and endings of Sebald’s long short story “Paul Bereyter” and of his novel Austerlitz. Highlighting three visual images of trains, railway tracks and railways, I will comment on the passages of verbal text accompa- nying these images. I am particularly interested in the ways in which the visual images’ narrative dimension is accentuated by the verbal text, and, conversely, how our reading of the verbal narrative is shaped and modulated by the visual images and the narrative elements with which they may be invested. Born in a village in Bavaria in 1944, W. G. Sebald was the son of a German soldier who (after he finally returned home in 1947 from a detention camp in France) never spoke about his war experiences. Thus there is a sense in which Sebald was not only literally but also metaphorically a child of the Second World War: he was born towards the end of the war, and his father’s absence and silence seem to have cast a shadow over his childhood. Perhaps this...

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