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Gerard Genette Structuralism And Literary Criticism Summary


Gerard Genette: A Structuralist Approach to Literary Criticism




Gerard Genette is a French literary theorist and critic who is best known for his work on narrative theory and poetics. He is one of the most influential figures of structuralism, a school of thought that analyzes literary texts as systems of signs and structures. In this article, we will summarize some of the main concepts and methods of Genette's structuralist literary criticism.




Gerard Genette Structuralism And Literary Criticism Summary



What is Structuralism?




Structuralism is a way of studying literature that focuses on the underlying patterns and rules that govern the production and interpretation of texts. Structuralists believe that literary texts are not simply expressions of individual authors or historical contexts, but rather products of universal codes and conventions that can be identified and analyzed. Structuralists use various methods and tools, such as linguistics, semiotics, anthropology and mathematics, to reveal the hidden structures and meanings of texts.


Structuralism emerged in the mid-20th century as a reaction to the dominant approaches of humanism and historicism, which emphasized the uniqueness and originality of literary texts and their relation to human experience and history. Structuralists challenged these assumptions by showing that literary texts are not autonomous or self-sufficient, but rather dependent on other texts and systems of signification. Structuralists also questioned the role of the author and the reader in creating meaning, arguing that meaning is not inherent in the text or in the intention of the author, but rather constructed by the reader according to certain rules and codes.


Who is Gerard Genette?




Gerard Genette was born in 1930 in Paris. He studied at the Ecole Normale Superieure, where he met other prominent structuralists such as Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. He became a professor at the Sorbonne and later at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. He also founded the journal Poetique, which became a leading platform for structuralist literary criticism.


Genette's main contribution to structuralism is his theory of narrative, which he developed in several books, such as Figures (1966-1972), Narrative Discourse (1972), Narrative Discourse Revisited (1983) and Fiction and Diction (1991). In these works, Genette analyzes various aspects of narrative, such as time, voice, mood, focalization, levels, modes and genres. He also proposes a typology of narrators and narratees, a distinction between story and discourse, a classification of narrative transformations and a concept of transtextuality.


What are the Concepts and Methods of Genette's Structuralist Literary Criticism?




Genette's structuralist literary criticism is based on a rigorous and systematic analysis of narrative texts using various concepts and methods. Some of the most important ones are:


  • Narrative Instance: This refers to the actual moment and context of narration, which determines the perspective and position of the narrator and the narratee. Genette distinguishes between three types of narrative instances: homodiegetic (when the narrator is also a character in the story), heterodiegetic (when the narrator is not a character in the story) and autodiegetic (when the narrator is also the protagonist of the story).



  • Narrative Time: This refers to the temporal relation between the events narrated and the narration itself. Genette distinguishes between three types of narrative time: order (the sequence of events in relation to their chronological order), duration (the speed at which events are narrated) and frequency (the number of times events are narrated).



  • Narrative Levels: This refers to the relation between different acts or levels of narration within a text. Genette distinguishes between four types of narrative levels: extradiegetic (the level outside any story), diegetic (the level of the main story), metadiegetic (the level of a story within a story) and hypodiegetic (the level of a story within a story within a story).



  • Narrative Modes: This refers to the ways in which events are narrated or represented in a text. Genette distinguishes between four types of narrative modes: mimesis (the direct imitation or representation of events), diegesis (the indirect narration or description of events), showing (the presentation of events through dialogue or action) and telling (the presentation of events through commentary or interpretation).



  • Narrative Genres: This refers to the types or categories of narrative texts according to their form, content or function. Genette distinguishes between three types of narrative genres: epic (a long narrative poem that recounts heroic deeds), novel (a prose fiction that depicts realistic characters and situations) and drama (a dialogue-based fiction that represents actions on stage).



  • Transtextuality: This refers to the relation between different texts or parts of texts within a text or across texts. Genette distinguishes between five types of transtextuality: intertextuality (the presence or quotation of one text in another text), paratextuality (the elements that surround or accompany a text, such as titles, prefaces, notes), metatextuality (the commentary or criticism of one text on another text), hypertextuality (the transformation or imitation of one text by another text) and architextuality (the generic or stylistic features that define a text).



Conclusion




Gerard Genette is a prominent structuralist literary critic who has developed a comprehensive and systematic theory of narrative. He has analyzed various aspects of narrative, such as instance, time, levels, modes, genres and transtextuality, using various concepts and methods. He has also shown how narrative texts are not isolated or independent, but rather related to other texts and systems of signification. Genette's structuralist literary criticism is a valuable tool for understanding and interpreting literary texts in a rigorous and analytical manner. d282676c82


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