Show Less
Restricted access

Kazuo Ishiguro and Max Frisch: Bending Facts in Unreliable and Unnatural Narration


Zuzana Fonioková

Since the late 1990s unreliable narration has garnered popularity in narrative theory and has sparked a lively debate among scholars. This book traces the theoretical discussions surrounding narrative unreliability and examines the relationship of unreliable narration to antimimetic techniques of portraying self-deception. Standing on the border between classical and postclassical narratology, the study analyses Kazuo Ishiguro’s and Max Frisch’s innovative narrative strategies, offering new perspectives on their œuvre and on unreliable narration as a narratological concept. A comparison of the methods Ishiguro and Frisch employ to explore the psychology of their narrators reveals a fascinating parallel in their development as novelists.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access


← 8 | 9 → Introduction


Since I started examining unreliable narrators in fiction, I have heard numerous jokes from friends and other people about the subject of my research, often along the lines of “so you’re writing about me” or “you should have a good look at [a friend’s name].” People have also shared with me their speculations about what this thing called unreliable narrator might be. These reactions probably result from the fact that the terms unreliable narrator and unreliable narration make use of common words widely used in everyday language. Compared to the concepts of, say, homodiegesis or focalization, unreliable narration is much more likely to elicit ideas about its meaning in people who do not engage in literary studies. Such ideas, however, often fail to fully coincide with how theorists of narrative understand this concept. This situation is not so surprising and provides no reason to be alarmed. However, the terminological ambiguity is repeated on a smaller scale even among students and critics of literature: I have had to learn to differentiate between the wider and narrower senses in which the term unreliable narrator is used.

It is the narrower sense that interests me in this book: unreliable narration as described by narratology. The living handbook of narratology defines this concept in the following way: “In its narratological sense, unreliability is a feature of narratorial discourse. If a narrator misreports, -interprets or -evaluates, or if she/he underreports, -interprets or -evaluates, this narrator is unreliable or untrustworthy” (Shen, “Unreliability” par. 1)...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.