This book investigates the entire spectrum of techniques for portraying the mental lives of fictional characters in both the stream-of- consciousness novel and other fiction. Each chapter deals with one main technique, illustrated from a wide range of nineteenth-and twentieth-century fiction by writers including Stendhal, Dostoevsky, James, Mann, Kafka, Joyce, Proust, WoolThis book investigates the entire spectrum of techniques for portraying the mental lives of fictional characters in both the stream-of- consciousness novel and other fiction. Each chapter deals with one main technique, illustrated from a wide range of nineteenth-and twentieth-century fiction by writers including Stendhal, Dostoevsky, James, Mann, Kafka, Joyce, Proust, Woolf, and Sarraute....
|Title||:||Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction|
|Number of Pages||:||344 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction Reviews
The book is very readable. She grounds her analysis in texts and avoids theorizing without examples. I wish I had know about this book as an undergraduate. I wrote a paper trying to discuss how the use of the first person narrator in a book I read of a class, made the protagonist ambiguous; in the end of the novel, the reader was unsure if the narrator was the man described or not. She is interested in how authors give readers the impression of the processes of thought, of consciousness of the characters and what devices they use to do this. She divides the book into two halves. The first deals with the third person narrator, the second with the first person narrator. She proceeds somewhat diachronically, but she see a synchronic pattern in the history of the methods. She focuses on grammatical markers, such as tenses, clauses, and punctuation in her discussion of the different devices for representing a character’s mind by the author.She points out that in realistic fiction, the protagonist conveys psychological processes and thoughts that no one would ever have communicated to them in real life; "… the paradox that narrative fiction attains its greatest 'air of reality' in the representation of a lone figure thinking thoughts she will never communicate to anyone" (7). Her argument joins with theories about the constructed and imaginary nature of narrative, even realist narrative. The third person narrator can delve into another person's mind in a way that is impossible for anyone in the real world, even perhaps the person narrating her own life. In realist fiction, and in other narrative forms, the human mind is "transparent" to the narrator, who can describe the character's thoughts. No one in real life is capable of doing such a thing. In other words, this transparency of the mind, of a character's thoughts is in itself a fiction. But is a compelling fiction that has some basis in reality; human beings think to themselves it seems, and we translate this experience to the fictional representation of the reality of a character's mind. In the third person context, the author depicts consciousness in three ways: psycho-narration, quoted monologue and narrated monologue. An important component of her argument is the difference between the authorial and the figural mind. The authorial mind is the writer's authority to act as a thinking agent in the narrative. The figural mind is the mind of the character in the narrative. The psycho-narration method delves into the mind of the character, but with the narrator's ability to discern the thoughts she has, but he uses his own language to do so. She makes some examples to show it: "he knew he was late," "he knew he had been late," and "he knew he would be late" (105). Note that each of these examples subordinated the character's thoughts to the narrator's main authority; the second part of these examples is a subordinating clause. The point of view is the character's but the author/narrator expresses the thoughts. Quoted monologues occurs when a character is quoted, as verbatim, by the narrator. The examples she uses to compare it with the other methods are: "(He thought:) I am late," "(he thought:) I was late," and "(He thought:) I will be late" (104-5). The thoughts are seen a occurring in the character's mind, unsaid. The thoughts are marked by verbs that express speech or thinking, change in tense, quotation marks or some other way; the reader can discern that the thought belongs or comes from the figural mind, not the authorial. This can be used in interesting ways to contrast between what the character thinks and what the narrator perceives (often the reality of the situation). The narrator remains the authority. Cohn defines narrated monologue as "the technique for rendering a character's thought in his own idiom while maintaining the third-person reference and the basic sense of narration" (100). Her examples for comparison are: "he was late," "he had been late," and "he would be late" (105). This method is somewhere between quoted monologue and psycho-narration. The method "renders the content of the figural mind more obliquely than" quoted monologue and "more directly than" psycho-narration (105). The authorial and the figural are twisted together in this method; the narrator's identification but not his identity with the figural mind is placed forward by this method (112). The narrator has to take an attitude towards his characters; her thoughts are objectified and falsity and sincerity are formed. The first person context, Cohn discusses retrospective techniques, from narration to monologue and finally the autonomous monologue. The first person context is odd; in many cases, the narrator is separated in time from what he narrates. The first person narrator is not really the same person; she is looking back at her past self. This can be exploited: an author can run the narrator’s thoughts now and memories together to create the idea that the character’s thoughts have not changed. There are some case where the narrated monologue of third person context approaches the first person version: the narrative appears to tell itself (169).
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This is the book on how consciousness is presented in fiction. It's divided into two halves: Consciousness in third-person narratives and consciousness in first-person narratives. Just an incredibly thorough examination of how consciousness has been handled. Cohn’s analysis is superb and includes examples from a wide variety of authors. Even her endnotes contain fascinating tidbits!