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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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MATTI HYVÄRINEN - “Against Narrativity” Reconsidered 327


327 MATTI HYVÄRINEN “Against Narrativity” Reconsidered Galen Strawson’s (2004) “Against Narrativity” counts as possibly the most influential and thorough critique of narrative theorizing of self and identity in cultural studies that has been launched to date. Indeed, it is not difficult to agree with him in criticizing many overstated claims about the narrative character of self and identity. Personally, I have no trouble identifying with his idea of an Episodic person, who, quote, “does not figure oneself, considered as a self, as some- thing that was there in the (further) past and will be there in the (further) future” (Strawson 2004, 430). Insofar as this invitation of the Episodic personality and resistance to narrative continuity and “form-finding” captivates us, Strawson, after all, fails in construing a convincing empirical case against narrativity. Rather, what he dis- plays is a closed conceptual language game whose premises largely imply the results of the presumed analysis. After all, Strawson neither reveals anything like a distinct “Episodic” style or personality, nor does he indicate any plausible limits of narrativity.1 The concept of narrative Strawson’s own argumentational style endeavours to build two dis- tinct traditions and styles of thought, a contradiction between the hegemonic narrative camp and the bravely dissenting non-narrative thinkers. “Narrativity camp” is indeed Strawson’s choice of term, 1 This article is part of my larger project, “The Conceptual History of Narra- tive”, funded by the Academy of Finland (project number 218274). 328 without a further thought about the narrative connotations and con-...

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