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Aspects of Narrative | Mimesis

Steve Campsall | Sunday October 09, 2011



Guide Navigation

  1. Introduction
  2. A Critical Vocabulary
  3. Tips for Improving Exam Grades
  4. Guide to Narrative: Narrative Frameworks
  5. Guide to Narrative: Narrative Concepts
  6. Focalisation and Diegesis
  7. Mimesis
  8. Narrative Forms and Structures
  9. Help with Exam Revision
  10. Analysis of Cousin Kate, poem by Christina Rossetti

In the vast majority of fictional stories, the narrator, characters, settings and actions are most often painstakingly constructed so as to mimic reality. This is, perhaps, the easiest way for a writer to create an immersing narrative. Some writers – more common today than in the past – try to create narratives that avoid this sense of mimesis. These are often called avant-garde narratives. In these, the writer tries to represent reality in atypical ways, but no less is trying to capture a ‘reality’ – you might think of this in TV terms, as the difference between “photorealistic? or “documentary? reality. Some writers use techniques such as ‘stream-of-consciousness’ or psychological cut-up styles to represent psychological complexities of life. If you are studying such a narrative then the Internet is the place for more research into this vast and complex area.

Much narrative you will meet will, therefore, be a kind of art that is called ‘mimetic narrative’; but the key thing to remember is that this is only an appearance of reality. It works because it provides the reader with the sense of what is called a high level of verisimilitude – and is done to be convincing so that it affects the reader’s emotions. It brings the reader to relate closely to, at least, the main character (the ‘hero-figure’ or ‘protagonist’) and to feel for and with him or her when things go wrong for them and they have to face crises in their life for which – crucially – the reader will blame the ‘villain’ or ‘antagonist’ .

  • It’s important that we are persuaded to feel that the characters and action are ‘real’ as only then will we relate to...

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