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Stephen Bann, 2 October 1980

Narrative Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Jane Lewin.
Blackwell, 285 pp., £9.95, June 1980, 0 631 10981 1
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... debate? This publication of the first substantial English translation from the critical work of Gérard Genette is at least a move in the right direction, though Narrative Discourse is not by any means a text in the idiom of Deconstruction. Originally published as the major part of Genette’s third collection of ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Dead Babies, 16 November 2000

... have got it wrong. French intellectuals have long been fascinated by Christie’s novel: Barthes, Gérard Genette, Algirdas Julien Greimas and Robbe-Grillet have all discussed it, and Perec was writing about it ‘on the eve of his death’. Bayard’s solution, a perfectly valid reading, is, remarkably, much more satisfying than Poirot’s. If you find ...

Horsey, Horsey

John Sturrock, 16 November 1995

The Search for the Perfect Language 
by Umberto Eco, translated by James Fentress.
Blackwell, 385 pp., £24.95, September 1995, 0 631 17465 6
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by Gérard Genette, translated by Thaïs Morgan.
Nebraska, 446 pp., £23.95, September 1995, 0 8032 2129 0
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... compromise would be hard to find between these two positions, but Socrates advances one, as Gérard Genette brings out in a typically rigorous analysis of the dialogue. Socrates emerges from it in the end as a ‘disappointed Cratylist’: his thesis is that whoever first gave things their names did a poor job on the whole, since so many of the ...

Intelligent Theory

Frank Kermode, 7 October 1982

Figures of Literary Discourse 
by Gérard Genette, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Blackwell, 303 pp., £15, August 1982, 0 631 13089 6
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Theories of the Symbol 
by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by Catherine Porter.
Blackwell, 302 pp., £15, July 1982, 0 631 10511 5
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The Breaking of the Vessels 
by Harold Bloom.
Chicago, 107 pp., £7, April 1982, 0 226 06043 8
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The Institution of Criticism 
by Peter Hohendahl.
Cornell, 287 pp., £14.74, June 1982, 0 8014 1325 7
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Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction 
by Ann Banfield.
Routledge, 340 pp., £15.95, June 1982, 0 7100 0905 4
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... than passing mention. Bloom is sui generis, but he is also wholly American, wholly un-English. Genette, though by any unprejudiced standard an extraordinarily fine critic, is also interested in systematic literary theory – though it is an opinion now strongly maintained in this country that the second part of that statement flatly contradicts the ...

Structuralism Domesticated

Frank Kermode, 20 August 1981

Working with Structuralism 
by David Lodge.
Routledge, 207 pp., £10.95, June 1981, 0 7100 0658 6
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... better readings possible. Thus it is with the most perceptive of the French narrative analysts, Gérard Genette. He uses Proust as a reservoir of illustrations for his narrative poetics: but he also uses that poetics as a set of instruments for giving ‘a more precise description of Proustian narrative in its particularity’. This second operation is ...

Joseph Conrad’s Flight from Poland

Frank Kermode, 17 July 1980

Conrad in the 19th Century 
by Ian Watt.
Chatto, 375 pp., £10.50, April 1980, 0 7011 2431 8
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... and the order in which Conrad chooses to present them. Watt uses it, and also its development by Gérard Genette. Characteristically, he doesn’t go far with that theorist’s beautifully articulated descriptions of ‘achrony’ (‘any narrative order which is not co-ordinate with that of the occurrence of the events of the story’), but he ...

I’ll be back

Marjorie Garber: Sequels, 19 August 1999

Part Two: Reflections on the Sequel 
edited by Paul Budra and Betty Schellenberg.
Toronto, 217 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 8020 0915 8
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... in person and online, about sequels, continuations, adaptations and completions. ‘The sequel,’ Gérard Genette wrote in Palimpsests, ‘differs from a continuation in that it continues a work not in order to bring it to a close but, on the contrary, in order to take it beyond what was initially considered to be its ending. The motive is generally a ...


Frank Kermode: B. S. Johnson, 5 August 2004

Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson 
by Jonathan Coe.
Picador, 486 pp., £20, June 2004, 9780330350488
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‘Trawl’, ‘Albert Angelo’ and ‘House Mother Normal’ 
by B.S. Johnson.
Picador, 472 pp., £14.99, June 2004, 0 330 35332 2
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... The seminar included graduate students fresh from Paris, from the classrooms of Barthes and Gérard Genette, who had so elegantly explained ‘anachrony’ and the way narrative can defy chronology. In Genette’s analepses, prolepses, syllepses and the like in ‘classical’ narrative Johnson could summon ...

Anger and Dismay

Denis Donoghue, 19 July 1984

Literary Education: A Revaluation 
by James Gribble.
Cambridge, 182 pp., £16.50, November 1983, 0 521 25315 2
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Reconstructing Literature 
edited by Laurence Lerner.
Blackwell, 218 pp., £15, August 1983, 0 631 13323 2
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Counter-Modernism in Current Critical Theory 
by Geoffrey Thurley.
Macmillan, 216 pp., £20, October 1983, 0 333 33436 1
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... any superior unmethodical intelligence might produce. Wayne Booth has a handsome essay on Gérard Genette as a rhetorician. But most of the others are gruff. Scruton implies that you’d need to be demented to propound what Derrida calls Grammatology, and goes on to defend the idea of tradition, the rights of the common reader, and ‘the ...


Terry Eagleton: Lawrence Sanitised, 5 February 2004

D.H. Lawrence and ‘Difference’: Post-Coloniality and the Poetry of the Present 
by Amit Chaudhuri.
Oxford, 226 pp., £20, June 2003, 0 19 926052 4
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... Kristeva on Mallarmé, Edward Said on Jane Austen, Paul de Man on Proust, Gilles Deleuze on Kafka, Gérard Genette on Flaubert, Hélène Cixous on Joyce, Harold Bloom on Wallace Stevens, J. Hillis Miller on Henry James. Some theorists are slapdash readers, but so are some non-theoretical critics. Derrida is so perversely myopic a reader, doggedly pursuing ...

High Taxes, Bad Times

John Pemble: Late Georgian Westminster, 10 June 2010

The History of Parliament: The House of Commons 1820-32 
by D.R. Fisher.
Cambridge, 6336 pp., £490, December 2009, 978 0 521 19314 6
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... by a sense of prodigious but futile labour – ‘du temps perdu à la recherche’, as Gérard Genette mischievously put it. You might feel frustrated, too, by the editorial strategy of the project as a whole. The overall sequence is chronological, but each component period is treated alphabetically. This means that the constituency histories ...

After Foucault

David Hoy, 1 November 1984

Philosophy in France Today 
edited by Alan Montefiore.
Cambridge, 201 pp., £20, January 1983, 0 521 22838 7
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French Literary Theory Today: A Reader 
edited by Tzvetan Todorov, translated by R. Carter.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £19.50, October 1982, 0 521 23036 5
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Histoire de la Sexualité. Vol. II: L’Usage des Plaisirs 
by Michel Foucault.
Gallimard, 285 pp., £8.25, June 1984, 2 07 070056 9
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Michel Foucault: Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics 
by Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow.
Chicago, 256 pp., $8.95, December 1983, 0 226 16312 1
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The Foucault Reader 
edited by Paul Rabinow.
Pantheon, 350 pp., $19.95, January 1985, 0 394 52904 9
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Michel Foucault and the Subversion of Intellect 
by Karlis Racevskis.
Cornell, 172 pp., £16.50, July 1983, 0 8014 1572 1
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Michel Foucault’s Archaeology of Western Culture: Toward a New Science of History 
by Pamela Major-Poetzl.
Harvester, 281 pp., £22.50, May 1983, 0 7108 0484 9
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Michel Foucault: Social Theory as Transgression 
by Charles Lemert and Garth Gillan.
Columbia, 169 pp., £8.50, January 1984, 0 231 05190 5
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Foucault, Marxism and Critique 
by Barry Smart.
Routledge, 144 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 7100 9533 3
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... the anthology, it can be praised for its selection of essays, including particularly fine ones by Gérard Genette, Roland Barthes, Michael Riffaterre, and Todorov himself. A substantive collection that is not similarly guilty of sexism is Peter Caws’s issue of Social Research entitled ‘Current French Philosophy’.* In addition to exemplary essays ...

Fiction and E.M. Forster

Frank Kermode: At the Cost of Life, 10 May 2007

... not to admire the ingenuity of such major narratological practitioners as Roland Barthes and Gérard Genette. In Forster’s Aspects of the Novel the only other passage as famous as the one about flat and round characters is the one that distinguishes between story and plot. He makes it sound simple. Time and the narratologists have shown that it is ...

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