Friday, 11 May 2018

Gérard Genette - a mini-obituary

The great narratologist, Gérard Genette has died. He wrote about how stories, novels, fictions of all kinds are put together or 'told'. He drew attention to the 'intertextual' origins of genre, style, type of fictions and within the fictions he looked at how stories are narrated, how those narrations change and he looked at how fictions deal with time, in a constantly changing way, even as we think we are looking at a 'now'. 

I've drawn on Genette's work in my booklets 'Why Read? Why Write?', 'Writing for Pleasure' and 'Poems and Stories for Primary and Lower Secondary Schools'.

People are very easily put off by 'theory' and feel that it is too abstract and too complicated for every day use. I've tried to break down some of the ideas of narratology and intertextuality in ways that can be used by teachers in primary and secondary schools. My main reason for doing that is not only are these great ways for students to see how the subtle ways in which stories are 'told' (narrated) affects us but that when explained they are great tools for creating new stories, as with say, experimenting with how we narrate, how we 'borrow' from previous stories (intertextuality) and how we can play with time in our writing, creating 'thick' sense of time by moving to and from showing us past and 'continuous' events. 

I hope that someone will do a thorough obituary of Genette. I read his book 'Palimpsestes' when I was doing my Ph.D. and it was a great help.