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Intrusive narrator

Related: self-referentiality - fiction - author - fourth wall - narrative - narrator - narratology


Key to Victorian style is the concept of the authorial intrusion and the address to the reader. For example, the author might interrupt her narrative to pass judgment on a character, or pity or praise another, while later seeming to exclaim "Dear Reader!" and inform or remind the reader of some other relevant fact. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_novel#Victorian_Novel [Jul 2006]

What an intrusive narrator does, in essence, is yank the reader out of the fictional dream—this breaks one of the rules of graduate workshops in fiction writing. Of course whenever there are confining rules, and usually they're helpful on some level, they're also there to break. But a narrator that addresses the reader isn't a new feature of fiction; it's a throwback. In the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English novel—think of Thackeray, Trollope, Fielding, Laurence Stern—it was quite common to come across a sentence addressed to the "Dear Reader," in which the narrator cozies up to the reader and leads her by the hand, so to speak. I never minded the intrusions; I love Fielding's narratorial asides in Tom Jones, which are very funny. It's only in the twentieth-century modern novel that the chatty narrator was banished. And I agree an intrusive narrator is rather old-fashioned, at least the way it was done in the past. But there have been other approaches: for example Joseph Conrad's Marlow, who acts as a narrator-agent for the writer. As soon as you begin writing from a particular angle of vision, that point of view becomes your agent. But there are more and less conspicuous narrators. And many books depend on the intrusive, guiding narrative voice; Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler couldn't live without the prominence of the narrator.--http://www.bombsite.com/abraham/abraham2.html [Jul 2006]

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