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Voice, Focalization, and Disembodiment in P. C. Jersild and C. F. Ramuz

Author:
Lutas, Liviu  


Journal:
NARRATIVE


Issue Date:
2019


Abstract(summary):

This essay deals with the possibility of using disembodied narrative voice and focalization in literary texts. I start with an overview of narratological approaches to the question, and I bring in newer cognitive aspects, such as the theories of the mind and post-human theories. I then proceed to a close reading of three literary works which are arguably interesting cases of disembodied voice and disembodied focalization. The three works are: P. C. Jersild's novel A Living Soul from 1980, C. F. Ramuz's short story "Scene dans la foret" from 1947, and his novel Terror in the Mountain from 1927. My analyses show that it is hard to achieve a complete disembodiment. Jersild's novel highlights, for instance, the need for a voice in a material sense and a focalization of a human type even in the case when a naked brain is supposed to be the narrator. In Ramuz's texts, the human component seems to be discarded in some cases at the enunciation level, especially when nature takes over the function of the narrator. But even then, the way in which nature functions as narrator is humanlike, since language, focalization, and a communicative context are employed. What is undisputed is that the ways in which the classical conventions of human narrative voice and focalization are subverted can lead to innovative works which test readers' imaginations and narrative competencies.


Page:
290---312


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