|About the Book|
Although narrative theory has moved away from a strictly structural analysis of narrative, it often retains a tendency to place structural elements of a narrative (characters, narrators, plot elements, etc.) into a dynamic system, rather thanMoreAlthough narrative theory has moved away from a strictly structural analysis of narrative, it often retains a tendency to place structural elements of a narrative (characters, narrators, plot elements, etc.) into a dynamic system, rather than regarding these elements themselves as dynamic functions operating within a larger system. This dissertation argues for an understanding of the narrator as an effect produced by the operation of narrative dynamics. The dynamics of the narrator function correspond to what Lacan refers to as the effect of retroversion. That is, the illusion of a narrating entity is produced out of a textual dissonance that also produces the illusion that the narrator somehow preexists the narrative- the narrative thus seems to be created or communicated by the narrator rather than vice versa.-In this effect of retroversion, the narrator reveals itself to be structured like the subject---dynamics without origin that appears nonetheless to emanate from a stable site. This dynamics operates via the instantiation of relationality: when textual utterances delineate differing ranges of knowledge, the illusion of a narrating entity whose own knowledge corresponds to one of those ranges emerges out this epistemological dissonance. In four American novels from the mid-twentieth century---Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man, Walker Percys The Moviegoer, Patricia Highsmiths The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Paul Brodeurs The Stunt Man, these dynamics play out in tandem with the dynamics of the Lacanian gaze. As a process of establishing and negotiating difference (inside and outside, self and other), the mechanisms of the gaze highlight the similarly relational operations out of which the narrative produces the illusion of its own narrator. The homologous dynamics of the subject and the narrator thus suggest that the readers relation to and engagement with fictional narrative is a question of intersubjectivity.