Perspective and Narrative Structure Structure–A Cognitive Perspective

Date
2000
Authors
Jacobs, Roderick A.
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Abstract
Written narrative discourse demands sophisticated tracking of mental spaces (Fauconnier, 1994). Such tracking requires readers to construct complex mental models incorporating much that is inexplicit h the prose. These models interact in subtle and intricate ways. The construal task involves more than the evocation of sequential scenarios, since particular stages in a narrative may arise from the blendrng of two or more mental models drawing on subsets of features of the source models. During this process of creative construal, readers construct, activate, and adiust a spatio-temporal focus enabling them to integrate the interpretation of indiyidual sentences into more global interpretations. This focus, referred to as the "deictic center" (Rapaport et.al, 1999), shifts constantly as the narrative Progresses. Characters in a narrative shift in and out of this center over the coutse of the narrative. Although such linguistic phenomena as anaphora, motion verbs, tense-marking, relative clause structures, and nominalizations may matk the ever-shifting deictic center, it is also true that readers must also draw on complex inferential skills to intelptet the narrative flow, i.e., to construct a coherent model of the narrative events, incorporating unexpressed information. The mental spaces evoked are interrelated, even blended, in complex and sometimes subde ways illustrated here in an examination of narrative segments from novels by Philippa Pearce, John Grisham, and Ann Tyler, and a Blake lyric.
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