Trusting the Tale: The Narrativist Turn in the Human Sciences Author(s): Martin Kreiswirth Source: New Literary

History, Vol. 23, No. 3, History, Politics, and Culture (Summer, 1992), pp. 629-657 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/469223 Accessed: 05/01/2010 04:13
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Trusting the Tale: The Narrativist Turn in the Human Sciences*
Martin Kreiswirth
Narration is a manner of speaking as universal as language itself, and narrative is a mode of verbal representation so seemingly natural to human consciousness that to suggest that it is a problem might well appear pedantic. But it is precisely because the narrative mode of representation is so natural to human consciousness, so much an aspect of everyday speech and ordinary discourse, that its use in any field of study aspiring to the status of a science must be suspect. Hayden White Never trust the artist. Trust the tale. D. H. Lawrence

A

S ANYONE

AWARE

of the current intellectual

scene has probably

noticed, there has recently been a virtual explosion of interest in narrative and in theorizing about narrative; and it has been detonated from a remarkable diversity of sites, both within and without the walls of academia. Along with progressively more sophisticated and wide-ranging studies of narrative texts-historiographic, literary, cinematic, psychoanalytic-we find a burgeoning development of disciplinary appropriations or mediations: narrative and psychology, narrative and economics, narrative and experimental science, narrative and law, narrative and education, narrative and philosophy, narrative and ethnography, and so on, as well as numerous, newly negotiated cross-disciplinary approaches. The large question I want to ask is why? Why narrative? And why narrative
* This paper is a part of a project on "Narrative Between the Disciplines" that I began while I was a fellow of the Commonwealth Center for Literary and Cultural Change, University of Virginia, 1989-90. For its support, for that of its director, Ralph Cohen, and the other fellows, and for that of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, I am most grateful.
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now? Why have we decided to trust the tale? And what does this say about how we define, talk about, and organize knowledge? Initially, though, and this is the object of this essay, I think it is necessary to scan the field with this thematics in mind, to take, first, a long view, and chronicle what I want to call the narrativist turn itself, and then to close in and follow some of the different paths that it takes, to examine the way narrative, both as a subject and a tool, is configured and described from diverse disciplinary and methodological positions.l I want to begin with a sketch of some facts of publication and institutional prominence; and I want to speak about them in terms of their occurrence in time. Until about twenty years ago, I think it is safe to say, narrative qua narrative was very little discussed. To be sure, innumerable examinations of narrative features have been part of the ongoing study of literary texts, including, of course, drama and, to a lesser degree, religious and historiographic texts from the time of the Greeks. Considerations of plot (in drama, and later in prose fiction), strategies of telling (point of view, focalization), generic differentials (narrative versus other discursive forms), and narrative hermeneutics and semantics -how stories produce meaning (in historiographic and religious, as well as in literary discourse)have marked critical inquiry from its beginnings, and up through its various institutional and professional manifestations of the last hundred years. It is only quite recently, however, that narrative itself has moved from the periphery to the center, from the role of ancillary or adjunct to a position of control, even of dominance. Discussion typically no longer focuses on the narrative features of a play, biblical story, historiographic text, or film, but on the narrative nature of those texts (or of objects of inquiry that we may not wish to label texts) or on those yet to be identified features themselves that make us call something a narrative, above, below, or within any phenomenal manifestation. Narrative, like "grand" or "meta" concepts such as "language" or "reason," has begun to leave the reflected light of specific disciplinary, institutional, or methodological arenas and become a source of illuminary convergence itself. Looking first at literary studies, and at special numbers of theoretically perspicacious journals alone, certain facts emerge. In 1975 New LiteraryHistory published an issue on narrative: it was basically a compendium of translations of important continental structuralist essays from the late sixties and early seventies (including, I believe, the first English version of Barthes's extraordinarily influential "Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative"), intermixed with some original essays by North American semioticians, most of whom

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were literary scholars.2 As Lubomir Dolozel, the commentator on the volume, indicated, structuralist linguistic theory guided what was then perceived-particularly from the perspective of anglophone North America-as a decidedly "new" foray into narrative poetics. Here was a new concern with macrostructures (global text organization) and deep (semantic) structures.3 But, at the same time, this broad quasi-scientific quest for a general narrative grammar was carried out in rather traditional textual territory: with the exception of a few nods in the direction of nonlinguistic and oral narratives, the theoretical speculations in this volume were addressed almost exclusively to literary texts-dominantly the novel. Nevertheless, this special issue was at the vanguard of the AngloAmerican shift to structuralist/formalist studies in general, and of those approaches to narrative, in particular-or, to "narratology," as it was beginning to be called (the translation of narratologie, introduced, I believe, by Tzvetan Todorov in La Grammaire du Decameron [1969]). And, along with contemporaneous works like Jonathan Culler's StructuralistPoetics: Structuralism,Linguistics, and the Study of Literature (1975), which translated and, for the most part, productively synthesized Todorov, Barthes, Greimas, Genette, Bremond, and some Russian Formalist theories, Todorov's The Poetics of Prose (1977), a translation (by Richard Howard) of his La Poetique de la prose (1971), and Seymour Chatman's Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film (1978)-which dealt with cinematic as well as literary texts-this special issue could be seen as setting the stage for much of the subsequent theoretical activity, some of it still occurring, that has attempted to locate narrativespecific systems of rules that preside over narrative production and processing. It wasn't until 1980, however, which can be seen in retrospect as a kind of annus mirabilis for narrative theory in North American literary contexts, that the study of narrative actually took center stage, and ushered in the beginning of what might be termed the narrativist decade of the 1980s. During the 1980-81 academic year there were no less than five special journal issues devoted solely to questions of narrative. Four of them, New LiteraryHistory's narrative sequel and the three issues of Poetics Todayexamining various aspects of literary "narratology," flowed along with what had, it seems, become the structuralist/literary mainstream.4 The other volume published that year, Critical Inquiry's special issue "On Narrative" (which later appeared with additions as a book) offered, however, a rather different approach to this theoretical inquiry and pointed, in many ways, toward the kind of interrogation of narrative that

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would become increasingly prominent during the later half of the decade.5 This volume moved away from the predominantly semiotic concerns of the previous compilations, on the one hand, and from the predominant disciplinary orientations (literary/linguistic) and objects of inquiry (literary fictional narratives-novels), on the other. Moreover, the contributors included, along with literary and linguistic scholars, philosophers, novelists, anthropologists, psychoanalysts, and historians, and they examined issues of narrative in relation to historiographic, visual, cinematic, as well as literary texts, and in relation, moreover, to human activities and meanings that may only problematically be labeled texts: the psychoanalytic dialogue, social dramas, and the phenomenology of temporality. Critical inquiry of narrative had slightly shifted its glance as well, as contributor-novelist Ursula Le Guin put it: having looked at the histoire or the "what" of narrative, and the discoursor the "how" of narrative, what seemed most pressing at this time was to look at le pourquoi, or the "why" of narrative and, in this volume, the debates surrounding these issues were carried out from quite a wide variety of nonstructuralist as well as poststructuralist perspectives.6 This centrifugal movement of the literary/linguistic modes of inquiry toward other theories, disciplinary methodologies, nationalities, and ideologies, as well as toward different objects of study, can be seen, as well, in the numerous volumes on narrative that have appeared (in English) throughout the eighties. I should first point out seminal narratological studies such as Gerard Genette's Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (1980), Figures of Literary Discourse (1982), and Narrative Discourse Revisited (1988), Gerald Prince's Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative (1982), Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan's Narrative Fiction: ContemporaryPoetics (1983), Mieke Bal's Narratology:Introductionto the Theoryof Narrative (1985), and other literary, biblical, or cinematic studies, such as Frank Kermode's The Art of Telling: Essays on Fiction (1983), David Bordwell's Narration in the Fiction Film (1985), J. Hillis Miller's Fiction and Repetition: Seven English Novels (1982), Meir Sternberg's The Poetics of Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (1987), Peter Rabinowitz's Before Reading: Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation(1987), D. A. Miller's Narrative and Its Discontents:Problemsof Closure in the Traditional Novel (1981), Peter Brooks's Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (1984), and Fredric Jameson's The Political Unconscious:Narrative as a Socially SymbolicAct (1981).7 There also began to appear, especially after 1985, works that placed questions of narrative within other, and sometimes signifi-

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cantly different, conceptual and institutional frameworks. A small sampling of this enormous list might include Jeff Adams's The Conspiracy of the Text: The Place of Narrative in the Development of Thought (1986), Paul Ricoeur's three-volume, Time and Narrative (1984-88), Claudia Brodsky's The Impositionof Form: Studies in Narrative Representation and Knowledge(1988), Hayden White's The Content Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation(1987), Roy of Schafer's Narrative Actions in Psychoanalysis (1981), Didier Coste's Narrative as Communication(1989), Edward Bruner's "Ethnography as Narrative," Jonathan Ree's PhilosophicalTales:An Essay on Philosophy and Literature (1987), Gayle Ormiston and Raphael Sassower's Narrative Experiments: The Discursive Authority of Science and Technology (1989), Christopher Nash's collection Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature (1990), and, not unexpectedly, various metacritical overviews of these diverse theories, such as Donald Polkinghorne's Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences (1988), Thomas Leitch's What Stories Are: Narrative Theory and Interpretation (1986), Wallace Martin's Recent Theories of Narrative (1986), and Gerald Prince's Dictionaryof Narratology(1987).8 This growing cross-disciplinary, theoretical concern with narrative as narrative was not surprisingly reflected in literary journals as well, and I might finish my selective chronicle of special numbers by noting that the contributors to Poetics's 1986 issue on "Narrative Analysis" hailed from a great variety of disciplinary territories within the humanities and social sciences, and that their papers, like the works listed above, examined narrative as much in nontextual as in textual forms, as it related to communication theory, cognition, therapy, memory, and artificial intelligence, as well as to cultural productions. Semiotic, rhetorical, and tropological analyses, moreover, were less to be seen in this volume than methods of investigation deriving from history, philosophy, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, and the more empirical wing of the social sciences.9 Now, what do we want to make of the "diachronic construct" that I've been sketching (to use Jameson's term)?'0 Has this introductory serial description of the titles and contents of academic monographs and literary/theoretical journals from the past two decades told us anything about the recent narrativist turn? And if so, how has this been accomplished? Have I, in short, produced a narrative, according to some of the criteria advanced by current narrative theorists? Or, at least, doesn't my selection, representation, and ordering of the materials themselves open up questions of narrative and narrative meaning? What would one need, for example, to fuse these elements into a plot? How should one organize the series of phenomena into

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a properly interlinked causal chain? And wouldn't it be necessary to find some thematic "armature" that would make for the tale's "tellability"? Seeing, for instance, this obsession with narrative forms of interpretation and understanding as a response to (or compensation for) the current climate of antifoundationalism, poststructuralism, and/or postmodernism-a response to the breakdown of transcendental truth-claims, to various overturnings or assaults on formerly hegemonic logico-deductive and patriarchal models of reason and knowledge."1 And, furthermore, could such a story be seen as the same sort of construct as one dealing with human agents? Can a narrative, that is, be composed of ideas, concepts, or intellectual categories rather than representations of people? Traditionally, investigating the criteria for such orderings and plottings of past events or phenomena (including textual ones) has not generally been the province of literary theory, semiotics, or linguistics, but of philosophy, particularly philosophy of history. Yet, like literary/linguistic studies, it is only in the past twenty years that narrative itself has become the primary problematic, as indicated by some of the titles alluded to above. To be sure, important work was carried out on historiographical narrative and its attendant epistemological and cognitive issues before the recent narrativist turn, by Arthur Danto, W. B. Gallie, and, to some degree, R. G. Collingwood, William Dray, and Maurice Mandelbaum, to name a few.12 But those thinkers were operating largely within a narrative/ science dialectic, whose theorizing was formulated in agonistic relationship to Hempelian covering-law (or nomological/deductive) models, or to distinctions between analytic and nonanalytic modes of historiographic thinking.'3 Those studies, as it were, remained debate or disciplinary-specific, like comparably important examples in literary theory, such as Scholes and Kellogg's immensely suggestive The Nature of Narrative. In the one case the question of narrative was posed almost entirely in terms of rival philosophic theories of historiography and the problematics of representing and explaining the past, in the other it was posed in terms of a diachronic or horizontal movement of the "narrative tradition," which was perceived as travelling essentially from oral to written literary forms.14 These developments were also complicated, to some degree, by a theory/practice split: the writers of history frequently resisted or ignored engagement with the self-reflexive examination of theoretical presuppositions and methodological questions brought up in, say, journals like History and Theory, frequently by members of other disciplinary persuasions, just as literary critics and exegetes questioned the relevance of theoretical pronouncements on narrative

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that were being discussed in, say, theoretical journals like the ones mentioned above. Beginning with Hayden White's profoundly influential Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe, and continuing with his work, along with that of Paul Ricoeur, Louis 0. Mink, Frederick Olafson, Paul Veyne, F. R. Ankersmit, David Carr, Michel De Certeau, and Hans Kellner, right up to the present, narrative becomes, as it did in the literary/linguistic community, less a dialectical counterweight, or binary alternative, than a fertile field of inquiry in its own right.15 At the same time, as was the case with literary theory (as seen in the special journal issues), the more narrative itself moved toward the center of discussion, the more entrenched disciplinary presuppositions and bankrupt theory/practice distinctions became augmented, dialogized, or reconstituted. White is probably the first, and certainly the most significant, theorist of narrative to ignore disciplinary and methodological restraints; drawing from the rhetorical and tropological theories of Vico and Kenneth Burke, the archetypal literary theories of Northrop Frye, the cognitive theories of Jean Piaget, the ideological theories of Karl Mannheim, and the epistemological theories of Stephen Pepper, he developed an eclectic yet incisive set of instruments for investigating narrative's discursive complexity-teasing out its ideological and aesthetic components as well as its hermeneutic and representational ones. Even though historiography is the dominant object of White's gaze, it is the dialogical cross-disciplinarity of his view, manifested both in the breadth of his methodology and of the kinds of problems he confronts, that places him, along with Paul Ricoeur, probably the only other narrative "generalist" of comparable scope and multidisciplinary dexterity, at the center of current narrative study. Although Ricoeur is concerned more with the continental philosophic tradition, temporality, and textuality than White, and works from a phenomenological/hermeneutic rather than ideological/cultural both theorists, like some of the others mentioned above, perspective, place narrative at the nodal point of current inquiry into the human sciences and critically interrogate its own investigative possibilities: they are concerned not only with asking what have been circumscribed as traditional literary questions-how narrative operates, how it can be categorized and judged-but also what narrative is and, to some degree, even more importantly why it is (philosophical questions) and what it does, and even what it does now (sociopolitical questions). Some critics see this neonarrativist turn, particularly in historiographic theory, as a final and belated shedding of a formerly reigning

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"mimetic epistemology common to positivism and traditional narrative," a "constructivist" replacement, as Dominick LaCapra argues, of the "matching" or miming function of consciousness by that of the "making" function (poesis).'6 As F. R. Ankersmit puts it, the historiographic narrativist's new sensitivity to problems of language and rhetoric allows reflective thinking about history to "finally catch up with the developments in philosophy since the works of Quine, Kuhn, and Rorty" and thus to enter fully into "the contemporary intellectual scene.""7 As this view would have it, the prematurely aging philosophy of history, in a kind of last ditch effort, has gone through a retraining program so that it can keep up with its more youthful disciplinary teammates: it, in short, can now proudly wear the uniform of philosophy again. Yet, as helpful as this kind of description (or progressive narrative?) might be for explaining some aspects of the new narrativist phenomenon, it falls back, I think, too much on some of the methodological and institutional constraints that recent inquiry into narrative has tried to rise above. It sees the contemporary intellectual scene as conforming to now dispersed boundaries and sees philosophy as a much more monolithic and monologic structure than it has become;'8 it also tends to ignore the truly trans- or meta-disciplinary nature of recent narrative inquiry. From whatever vantage point one chooses, I think it can be demonstrated that what we might term current philosophic inquiry is marked as much by a turn toward narrativist and historical concerns, as the other way around, and, furthermore, that this dialogic, mutually reflexive interaction goes beyond the traditional chiasmic pair: philosophy of history/history of philosophy.'9 Not only does Alasdair MacIntyre, for instance, see a narrativizing of philosophy as a way to work toward understanding epistemological crises, problems arising, as James Bohman has put it, from "'incommensurable' conceptual schemes, alternative systems of belief, and incompatible ways of life,"20 but also a narrativizing of the subject as a way to deal with moral crises. The question of ethics, for MacIntyre, is at bottom a question of narrative. As he argues in After Virtue: "It is because we all live out narratives in our lives and because we understand our own lives in terms of the narratives that we live out that the form of narrative is appropriate for understanding the actions of others."21 Martha Nussbaum also looks toward narrative models as providing ways of talking about configurations for the self that contextualize moral decision-making. The "working-through of a human story," she says in The Fragility of Goodness,offers "a picture of reason's procedures and problems that

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could not readily be conveyed in some other form." And her particular example of narrative, the tragic drama, "lays open to view the complexity, the indeterminacy, the sheer difficulty of actual human deliberation" in ways that she feels traditional philosophic discourse and even "a schematic philosophical example making use of a similar story" cannot.22 A narrativist approach has also been important in current reconceptualizations of Nietzsche's and Kierkegaard's thought; indeed, it may be the very discursive form of much of their writingsnarrative-that has caused the recent rise in their academic and cultural capital. Alexander Nehamas's very influential Nietzsche: Life as Literature, for instance, stresses narrative as a way of understanding Nietzsche's notion of perspectival diachrony, and uses narratological instruments to help probe some of Nietzsche's more demanding ideas, such as "eternal recurrence."23 Similarly, in the recently published NietzscheanNarratives, Gary Shapiro characterizes Nietzsche as a "critical narratologist," whose texts, not surprisingly, work with and against diegetic forms to question both the uses and abuses of narrative itself.24 And while Pat Bigelow notes that the "Kierkegaardian gambit" is "to offer a little uplifting story in order to get us to want to say . . . unsayable saying before we are even aware that something new and uncanny has suddenly started upon us," Christopher Norris sees this narrative gambit as being undone by narrative itself: reading Kierkegaardian stories as stories, he argues, deconstructs distinctions Kierkegaard wants to make between "'aesthetic' and 'religious' modes of understanding."25 The Kierkegaardian text, in other words, is self-destroying because it is "self-destorying." More generally and perhaps more significantly, narrative, or its more homely variety story, as both terms for and modes of rational discursive practice, have come to displace argument and explanation in a whole range of recent philosophic, theoretical, and crossdisciplinary contexts. Richard Rorty, for example, has tended to see narrative as a useful way of talking about redescription, historical contingency, and the "identifying criterion" of philosophy today.26 Narrative, for Rorty, is a roomy concept, with wide utility. In "The Contingency of Language," for instance, Rorty writes: "We think of telling a causal story as a paradigm of the literal use of language. Metaphor, linguistic novelty, seems out of place when one turns from simply relishing such novelty to explaining why these novelties, and not others, occurred. But remember . . . that even in the natural sciences we occasionally get genuinely new causal stories, the sort of stories produced by what Kuhn calls 'revolutionary

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science.'" And, a little further on, "If, with Davidson, we drop the notion of language as fitting the world, we can see the point of Bloom's and Nietzsche's claim that the strong maker, the person who uses words as they have never before been used, is best able to appreciate her own contingency. . .. For although strong poets are, like all other animals, causal products of natural forces, they are products capable of telling the story of their own production in words never used before."27 Similarly, in "Freud and Moral Reflection," Rorty sees Freud's contribution to a larger "'decentering' movement of thought" and its moral ramifications largely in terms of narrative construction and integration. Freud's work, according to Rorty, enables us to put together "richer and more plausible . . . narratives tailored ad hoc to the contingencies of individual lives." These stories are "more plausible because they will cover all the actions one performs in the course of one's life, even the silly, cruel, and self-destructive actions." Moreover, "Freud helped us to see that the attempt to put together a narrative-one that minimizes neither the contingency nor the decisive importance of the input into the machine that each of us is--must take the place of an attempt to find the function common to all such machines." Yet, he goes on to say, we must "see the narratives of our own lives as episodes within . . . larger historical narratives," for "historical narratives about social and intellectual movements are the best tools to use in tinkering with ourselves, for such narratives suggest vocabularies of moral deliberation in which to spin coherent narratives about our individual lives."28 Rorty also, and perhaps more importantly for my purposes, looks directly at the specific discursive and rhetorical properties of storied language and sees significant connections between narrative forms as they appear in traditionally distinct disciplinary discourses. In "Self-Creation and Affiliation: Proust, Nietzsche, and Heidegger," Rorty's examination of some of the "paradigms" of what he terms "ironist theory" takes him first through an analysis of what distinguishes the narratives of Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger from those of novelists (in this case Proust), and then to a more direct investigation of the narrative mode itself and the uses to which it has been put by these writers. According to Rorty, these "ironic theorists"-the Hegel of The Phenomenology,the Nietzsche of Twilight of the Gods, and the Heidegger of the "Letter on Humanism"-are unwilling, on the one hand, to leave history and temporality behind to become metaphysicians- ahistoric systematizers-and unwilling, on the other, fully to embrace contingency and the narrow view and become novelists. They therefore retain the large, panoramic

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view by grouping the ideas or vocabularies of the past into agents, retain what Spirit, Being-and "larger-than-self-heroes"-Europe, Ricoeur has called the temporality of narrativity and the narrativity of temporality by placing these heroes in a story.29 "Ironist theory must be narrative in form," Rorty says, because the ironist's nominalism and historicism will not permit him to think of his work as establishing a relation to real essence; he can only establish a relation to the past. But, unlike other forms of ironist writingthis relation to the past is a relation not to the author's idiosyncraticpast but to a larger past, the past of the species, the race, the culture. It is a relation not to a miscellaneous collection of contingent actualities but to the realm of possibility, a realm through which the larger-than-life hero runs his course, gradually exhausting possibilitiesas he goes. By a happy coincidence, the culture reached the end of this gamut of possibilitiesjust about the time the narrator himself was born.30 Rorty's description of the theorists' paradigmatic plot and its ramifications bears, I think, interesting relationships to the paradigmatic plot, the one posited by Aristotle, and its discursive and disciplinary implications. For Aristotle, poetic plots deal with possibilities (the kind of thing that can happen) as opposed to historic plots, which deal with actualities (what has happened). Therefore, as Aristotle tells us, poetic plots are more universal and hence more philosophic than historic ones.31 For Rorty's ironic theorists, however, not just possibility, but all possibilities have been exhausted by the shape and closure of their narratives, leaving no temporal space for actualities; in their discourse, the philosophic and the universal have thus become conflated with the historic and the poetic. The creation of a plot, moreover, the making of a beginning, a middle, and an end, as Aristotle has made clear, requires the maker to stand, as it were, beyond the end, and thus before the representation of the beginning-on the far side of the construct. And it is, I think, this unavoidable narrative position that points up the ironic theorists' central problem. Hegel, as Rorty notes, could find "no dialectical space" (SCA 104) in which to end the Phenomenology, leaving the reader with the "notorious" possibility that History had reached its goal with Hegel's thought and Germany in the nineteenth century (SCA 104).32 Approached in this way, Hegel's philosophic problem, and indeed the problems of all the ironic theorists, start looking like problems of narrative and narrative representation. "How," Rorty asks, "can we tell a historical narrative which ends with oneself without looking as ridiculous as Hegel made himself look? How can one be a theorist-write a narrative of ideas rather

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than people-which does not pretend to a sublimity which one's own narrative rules out?" (SCA 108). One partial answer, the late Heidegger's answer, though a self-deluding and ultimately unsatisfactory one, as Rorty demonstrates, is to leave story behind, to treat the "narrative of the history of Being as merely a ladder which could be thrown away, merely an artifice for bringing the 'elemental words' to our attention"; Heidegger thus gives us finally, not a narrative but a poem, more precisely a kind of extended "litany" (SCA 117). But, as Rorty goes on to show, even this attempt could not, in some ways, get Heidegger beyond "colligation and redescription" (SCA 120), beyond Proust, beyond self-representing stories; and furthermore that ironist theory itself ultimately failed to provide the kinds of sought-for syntheses through narrative that its dreaded enemy metaphysics tried (and also failed) to achieve through ahistoric system. Still, in other recent essays, Rorty argues that certain versions of the local, contingent narrative-Proust's kind of narrative-may be able to provide a kind of space for a redescription of the social, political, (and even perhaps philosophical?) that the grand narratives of ironist theory closed off.33 This concern for the "micro" as opposed to the grand or metanarrative, though rather differently inflected and stemming from different impulses, is central to the work of another contemporary philosopher, Jean-Francois Lyotard. Lyotard is probably best known (certainly among his English readers) as a theorist of the postmodern, as the one who-self-consciously "simplifying to the extreme," as he said-defined "postmodern incredulity toward metanarratives,"34 as a formula that has by now become almost a topos for discussions of the contemporary cultural, social, and political scene. Talk of metanarratives, master narratives, and grand recit echoes everywhere, traversing and retraversing disciplinary boundaries within and among the hallways of the humanities and social sciences; metanarrative now is a virtually unavoidable term in any postmodernity debate. Yet, to recapture, for a minute, the initial strangeness of this formulation, and indeed, the strangeness of what Fredric Jameson called Lyotard's "striking" methodological perspective, it is worth remembering that his detailed analyses of narratives, great and small, and their language games, pragmatics, and legitimating mechanisms, originated not in a monograph on cultural or even social theory, but in a report on "knowledge in the most highly developed societies" commissioned by the government of Quebec in 1979, and that science and technology were major areas of concern (PC xxv). What I want to stress here is not only that Lyotard chose to frame

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these traditionally philosophic socioepistemological questions almost solely in terms of narrative. But, moreover, that his diverse and from Wittgeninteresting web of investigative procedures-drawn steinian language games, linguistic pragmatics, speech-act theory, French narratology, structuralist anthropology, as well as from Nietzsche, Kant, and the philosophy of science and social science-were developed specifically to explore, expose, and articulate the unique workings of narrative itself-its creation, structure, and interpretation, but also its social transmission, politics, and, most uniquely, its justice. Lyotard's almost obsessive attention to the workings and possibilities of narrative modes of thought, in fact, compelled Jameson to characterize him, in 1984, as "one of the few professional philosophers of stature anywhere formally to have . . . drawn [the] momentous consequence" that examining the "way in which narrative is affirmed" is not merely "a significant new field of research, but ... a central instance of the human mind and a mode of thinking fully as legitimate as that of abstract logic."35 I should point out here that Jameson himself, three years earlier, and using what he termed "the shorthand of philosophical idealism" also saw the "all informing process of narrative" as "the central function or instance of the human mind."36 It is not, however, the centrality of narrative to thought or its primacy among what Lyotard calls the facons de parler that drives his narrativist inquiry. It is rather his belief that it is necessary, on the one hand, to understand the legitimizing operations of grand narratives in order to demystify their totalizing power and, on the other, to examine the range, context, and functions of little or local narratives in order to see what is, for Lyotard, their importantly oppositional, or critical, social and political energies. Having given up transcendental authority or origin for legitimation, modern science, according to Lyotard, needs a form of discourse outside of itself, one that tends to look toward some sort of future, or teleological ideal, as a condition of its self-grounding.37 This "metadiscourse," Lyotard goes on to say, makes an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth. For example, the rule of consensus between the sender and addressee of a statement with truth-value is deemed acceptable if it is cast in terms of a possible unanimity between rational minds: this is the Enlightenment narrative, in which the hero of knowledge works toward a good ethico-politicalend-universal peace. As can be seen from this example,

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if a metanarrativeimplying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge, questions are raised concerning the validity of the institutions governing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well. Thus justice is consigned to the grand narrative in the same way as truth. (PC xxiiixxiv)38

For Lyotard, grand narratives exert totalizing and, in some instances, totalitarian control,39 through the universalization of a particular plot, which restrictively positions its agents, narrators, and listeners. They also, apparently, undermine their own identity and discursive force as plots through a fundamental disruption of narrative temporality. Like the plots of Rorty's "ironist theorists," metanarratives posit an ideal "endpoint," in this case "universal liberty," that "remains out of reach";40 there is thus no teleological position from which to close and thus retroactively emplot the series. Their infrastructure of narrative logic and pragmatics is hence, in some sense, self-dissolving. Little narratives, on the other hand, are defined by their local, contingent, and nontotalizable discursive energies. They remain, as David Carroll notes, "a kind of open, highly mobile form that, in each instance, determines on its own how the various elements it contains or refers to will be interrelated. The little narrative is, in this sense, a kind of 'zero degree' of differentiating discourse-the form discourse takes to express diversity and unresolved conflict and, thus, resist homogenization."4' It provides, Lyotard notes, not only "the quintessential form of customary knowledge" (PC 19), but also a form for producing social and political resistance.42 Lyotard justifies the weight given to these "small narratives" by his narrativist methodological position, by his stress on the specific "language game," and "performability" of this discourse. Through an examination of "the pragmatics of narrative knowledge" (PC 18), he articulates the complex set of relations that can be mobilized among "narrator and what is narrated, narrator and listener (reader), and listener and the story being talked about by the narrator."43Though he indicates that the what or the content of a particular micronarrative may, like a virus, "eat away at the grand instituted narrative apparatus," it is its performative, pragmatic function that gives the narrative both its local authority and its heterodox sociopolitical power. Throughout the culture, unofficial small stories are told, listened to, retold; affirmed, disconfirmed, revised, dropped; all this occurring alongside of other stories circulating, in the same manner, in sometimes intersecting paths. Any narrative at any time can be countered by another narrative; their truth or legitimacy not governed by any

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overarching rules except those pragmatic ones that keep them travelling in the circuit. "There is, then," Lyotard writes, "an incommensurability between popular narrative pragmatics, which provides immediate legitimation, and the language game known to the West as the question of legitimacy. . . . Narratives . . . determine criteria of competence and/or illustrate how they are to be applied. They thus define what has the right to be said and done in the culture in question, and since they are themselves a part of that culture, they are legitimated by the simple fact that they do what they do" (PC 23). Lyotard, as critics have noted, places an incredibly heavy burdenepistemological, social, political, even ethical-on little narratives and, indeed, on the workings of narrative in general. Yet, whatever one thinks about his results, it seems clear that it is his narrativist focus, his multidisciplinary emphasis on the specific conventions of its pragmatics-that gives sociolinguistic narrative interaction-on his rearticulations of contemporary problems of power and knowledge their discursive force and rhetorical appeal. In commenting on and assessing the now well-known debate between "Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity," Richard Rorty ends up, as he says, splitting the difference between the two thinkers. What he particularly wants to retain in Lyotard, however, is his stress on the social instrumentality of narrative, Lyotard's call "to let the narratives which hold our culture together do their stuff."44 For Rorty, Lyotard's assertion of "the rights of 'narrative knowledge'" and his reliance on "first-order narratives" can be seen to line up neatly with general pragmatist thought, to conform, for instance, with the Deweyan attempt to reach the stage "when philosophy shall have cooperated with the force of events and made clear and coherent the meaning of the detail."45 Since "action," as Dewey states, "is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique,"46 narrative, and narrative theory, it seems to me, thus works not only to support, or add to, neopragmatism, but to provide redescriptions of "the meaning of the daily detail" that derive themselves concretely from the "force of current events." The transdisciplinary narrativist turn that I have been describing can also be seen in recent Marxist thought, and particularly in the work of Fredric Jameson, who, like Habermas, but from another flank, also attacked Lyotard's theory of postmodernity. The details of this debate, interesting as they are, are less important here, however, than the fact that it was carried out almost entirely in terms of questions about the function and place of narrative. In the foreword to Lyotard's The Postmodern Condition, Jameson, like

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the author, sees the current scene in terms of a narrative "crisis." Yet he proposes a more ecological solution than Lyotard's: rather than junk the metanarrative, Jameson wants to recycle it, noting that its legitimizing function has in fact been buried, not jettisoned. One should posit, Jameson says "not the disappearance of the great master-narratives, but their passage underground as it were, their continuing but now unconsciouseffectivity as a way of 'thinking about' and acting in our current situation."47 Also, for Jameson, it is not the little narrative, but a specific grand narrative, the overarching Marxist plot, that will underwrite future social justice. "The Great master-narratives," Jameson says, "are those that suggest that something beyond capitalism is possible, something radically different; and they also 'legitimate' the praxis whereby political militants seek to bring that radically different future social order into being."48 In The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act, Jameson's most profound meditation on the workings of narrative, and indeed one of the most important books written on the subject, he is even more explicit: it is narrative, as a "socially symbolic act," that by its very form, rather than its "contents," gives events meaning and human significance;49 and it is specifically the Marxist master narrative that can unite human beings with history and social promise: "Only Marxism," Jameson writes in the introduction, "can give us an adequate account of the essential mysteryof the cultural past ... and to deliver its long-forgotten message in surroundings utterly alien to it. This mystery can be reenacted only if the human adventure is one." Past events "can recover their original urgency for us only if they are retold within the unity of a single great collective story; only if, in however disguised and symbolic a form, they are seen as sharing a single fundamental theme-for Marxism, the collective struggle to wrest a realm of Freedom from a realm of Necessity; only if they are grasped as vital episodes in a single vast unfinished plot." And here Jameson quotes the Marxist paradigmatic plot of the class struggle as expressed in The CommunistManifesto: "The history of all hitherto existing society is the histories of class struggles" and so on.50 Whatever we may think of the urgency, singularity, and, indeed, conditionality expressed by Jameson's litany of "only ifs" (and remember as an introduction this is a kind of manifesto of its own),5' it is clear that for him, and indeed for his critical discussions of the political unconscious throughout the text, historical materialist thought operates most incisively and analytically under the sign of narrative. The primary problem for Marxist theory-the question of conceptualizing history-is, Jameson categorically states, "essentially a narrative problem, a question of

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the adequacy of any storytelling framework in which History might be represented."52 The narrativist turn, just as powerfully and perhaps even more pervasively, has also redirected recent psychoanalytic thought, where "Freud's Masterplot," to use Peter Brooks's formulation, becomes both a subject and object of discursive redescription and therapeutic treatment. Brooks, like many of the contemporary theorists I've been discussing, sees narrative as a kind of almost unassailable cognitive ground. "Narrative," he writes in Reading for the Plot, "is one of the large categories or systems of understanding that we use in our negotiations with reality, specifically, in the case of narrative, with the problem of temporality: man's [sic] time-boundedness, his [sic] consciousness of existence within the limits of mortality." "And plot," he goes on to say, "is the principal ordering force of those meanings that we try to wrest from human temporality."53 Although Brooks, like Jameson, engages in the analysis of individual literary texts, his inquiry, like Jameson's as well, is addressed to larger issues, in this case, to an investigation of the why and how of story itself, to its dynamic and economic mechanisms of desire, as expressed through Freudian as well as Lacanian models. Plot, for Brooks, works as a kind of dialogic transferential process between author, text, and reader that cannot be hypothesized adequately by the now conventional structuralist or narratological binaries: fabula and sjuzet, roughly story and discourse.54 This dyadic model remains too static and formal to take into account what Brooks terms narrative's "energy" or shaping forces. Plot rather operates, as it were, between these binaries: "as the active process of sjuzet working on fabula," or, to use another formulation, as the interactive combination of Barthes's proairetic and hermeneuticcodes-the push and pull of the sequence of actions through time against the enigmas and answers they provoke (RP 25, 18).55 Desire, in turn, is the engine that drives and consumes both plot and its uncanny allure. Appropriating Freud's late metaphysical writings, as glossed by Lacanian scenarios of imaginary fulfillment, Brooks sees both desire in narrative and narrative desire as a kind of mutual back and forth zig-zagging between Eros and Thanatos. In this formulation, Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle provides him with a "dynamic-energetic model," a higher order masterplot, that "gives an image of how the nonnarratable existence is stimulated into the condition of narratibility, to enter a state of deviance and detour . . . in which it is maintained for a certain time, through an at least minimally complex extravagance, before returning to the quiescence of the nonnarratable. . . . The desire of the text," then, "is ultimately the desire

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for the end, for that recognition which is the moment of the death of the reader in the text" (RP 108). Brooks goes on to say that it is, however, "the role of fictional plots to impose an end which yet suggests a return, a new beginning: a rereading. Any narrative, that is, wants at its end to refer us back to its middle, to the web of the text: to recapture us in its doomed energies" (RP 109-10).56 In other words, narrative's ultimate goal, like life itself, is to find an end, to return to the inorganic, but this "instinctual drive" is displaced, cathected or bound elsewhere: the desire for the final endpoint is shifted, avoided, delayed and doubled by the swerves that make up narrative itself, preparing it for the proper discharge. Narrative, for Brooks, therefore not only allows human beings to "work through" the aporias of temporality, as Paul Ricoeur would have it, but also to deal somehow with that which creates temporality, to deal with finality and quiescence, with death. Walter Benjamin was right, Brooks states, when he claimed that "death is the sanction of everything that the storyteller can tell," that a person's life "first assumes transmissible form at the moment of his [or her] death" (RP 95). Yet, according to the Freudian masterplot, this transmissibility requires the "right death," the proper end that has first traversed, deviated, and postponed its own occurrence through the story it serves to both terminate and make meaningful. Brooks goes a long way in trying to find narrative's raison d'etre and motivating engine in the psychoanalytic mechanisms and masterplot that generate and control what has been called story's inherent "double logic," what I have earlier described with reference to Hegel as the "unavoidable narrative position," which requires both the maker and consumer to stand on the "far side of the construct," at once before and after its mobilizations of desire. In narrative, as Sartre has put it, "things happen one way and you tell about them. ... in the reverse"; but to try to order and make sense of temporal experience in other ways is "to try to catch time by the tail."57Story attempts just this impossibility: it is the tale that tries to catch time by the tail. Narrative functions by the "anticipationof retrospection," as Brooks puts it; it "seems ever to imagine in advance the act of its transmission, the moment of reading and understanding that it cannot itself ever know, since this act always comes after the writing, in a posthumous moment" (RP 23, 34).58 This act, as Sartre, like many others, has pointed out, also comes after the living, the "onething-following-another" of experience. And it is, indeed, this very narrative act that underwrites psychoanalysis as much as psychoanalysis can be seen as underwriting it.

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As important as Freud's masterplots may be-and we might quickly add here the originary narrative of patricide in Totemand Taboo and the all-controlling Oedipal plot to the metanarrative Brooks forehave not been given nearly the attention as that grounded-they to his more obviously narrative writings, the case histories: given Dora, Little Hans, the Wolfman, and the Rat Man. More and more, and especially during the last five years, these texts have become the object of a remarkable diversity of disciplinary and methodological modes of inquiry. They have been studied for their plots as well as their psychoanalytic insights, their textuality as well as their therapeutic techniques, their narrative practice as well as their clinical practice-so much so, in fact, that they have begun to be accorded a kind of canonical status.59 Yet, we should remember that they have not always been seen so pluralistically or positively, particularly within the psychoanalytic community. Indeed, until recently, the storied forms of what may be described as the paradigms of psychoanalytic clinical procedures had been perceived as somewhat of an embarrassment, as they were perceived, it seems, by Freud himself: "It still strikes me myself as strange," he noted in Studies on Hysteria, "that the case histories I write should read like short stories and that, as one might say, they lack the serious stamp of science. I must console myself with the reflection that the nature of the subject is evidently responsible for this, rather than any preference of my own."60 Current theorists, however, have not felt the least embarrassment in placing not just the case histories, but dream interpretation, metapsychology, and even clinical treatment, indeed the whole psychoanalytic enterprise itself under the sign of narrative. That the narrative form of the case studies lacked the "serious stamp of science" for Freud, is, as well, no longer a cause for worry in the contemporary epistemological climate of antipositivism and antifoundationalism, the climate that has proved so salutary to narrative thought. Although the Freudian "talking cure" and the theories underpinning it seem to have been tacitly dependent from the beginning on a narrative rather than a purely scientific form of logic (if there is such a thing), psychoanalysis is now unabashedly acclaimed, both in its theory and clinical practice, as a narrative activity, pure and simple. Francoise Meltzer, for instance, has recently provided an example of what we might call the radically narrativist formulation. "The very process of psychoanalysis," she writes, "entails the construction of a linear, cogent narrative; the recounting and piecing together of a life. The goal of analysis is to have the patient

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reconstruct a 'better,' more cohesive story as the analysis progresses. The analysis is narrative, and the analysand is the narrator. The analyst, it follows, assumes the role of reader of this narrative, for he or she is obliged. ... to reconstruct in turn the 'plot' of a life as it is itself being constructed. And too, the analyst must 'read' the 'subplot' of this narrative: the unconscious as it may be itself reconstructed from the disguises and displacements it assumes in the tale the patient tells." The analyst, moreover, "plays the role not only of reader but also of critic. For the analyst must first 'read' or interpret the narrative. Then he or she must persuade the analysand of the accuracy of his or her own, corrected, version and interpretation. Finally, the analyst may write up a 'case study,' retelling the patient's story and the story of the analysis itself. The case study is then the narrative of a narrative which attempts to persuade readers (in this case, other psychoanalysts, for example) of the accuracy of the reading."6' Similar, though perhaps somewhat less monologic and "literacentric," characterizations of the psychoanalytic process appear in the writings of other literary theorists such as Brooks, Steven Marcus, and Jonathan Culler;62 but they also appear in the writings of psychoanalysts themselves, most notably in Donald Spence's Narrative Truth and Historical Truth: Meaning and Interpretationin Psychoanalysis and Roy Schafer's Narrative Actions in Psychoanalysis.63 Although these are only too aware of the problems of a rigidly narrativist therapists model, particularly when it leaves the orderly world of theoretical speculation and enters the messy realm of clinical practice and human consequence, they each, in their own ways, see the process of dialogic narrative redescription as the armature around which both psychoanalytic theory and therapy revolve. Schafer, in fact, argues that the importance of Freud's case studies lies not in their theoretical or procedural insights but in the rhetorical power of their complexly doubled narrative structure: It is important that the narrations of the analyses convey in some form the drama of the quest, with all its uncertainties and difficulties, and the timelessness of the mode of investigation itself. These features of analysis are lost in single, combinatorial,linear life histories. Consider in this regard each of Freud's great case reports-Dora, Little Hans, the Ratman, and the Wolfman. Although each one of these includes . . . summary retellings, in the main each is a narrative of the analysis itself. Or perhaps, taking Freud's accompanyingtheoreticaland methodologicalremarksinto account as well, one should say that each case report is better describedas a narrative of Freud's continuing creation of psychoanalysis.I think that the widely recognized literary power of these case studies stems from their artful and

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brillianttelling of how arduously, and often uncertainly,Freud was creating
psychoanalysis.64

To put this in more narratological terminology, Freud's theoretical speculations and methodological remarks function to create what Barthes calls "a dilatory space" for the swerves, hesitations, and unravelings of the analysand's narrative, just as the overdeterminations and transferential complications in the analysand's story function to create hermeneutic gaps in Freud's. Yet, while engaged in his double narrative discourse-telling the story of psychoanalysis against and through the psychoanalysis of his patients' stories--Freud himself still longed to participate in the antinarrative language of nineteenth-century science and consequently never seemed to feel entirely comfortable with his own linguistic tools. For example, just at the point of bringing up the highly vexed question of homosexuality in "Dora": Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, Freud engages in another apology for the use of narrative forms and again separates himself from the writer of fictional stories: I must now turn to consider a further complication to which I should certainlygive no space if I were a man of letters engaged upon the creation of a mental state like this for a short story, instead of being a medical man engaged upon its dissection. The element to which I must now allude can only serve to obscure and efface the outlines of the fine poetic conflict which we have been able to ascribe to Dora. This element would rightly fall a sacrifice to the censorship of a writer, for he, after all, simplifies and abstracts when he appears in the character of a psychologist. But in the world of reality,which I am trying to depict here, a complicationof motives, an accumulation and conjunction of mental activities-in a word, overdetermination-is the rule.65 Yet from our narrativist perspective, as both Schafer and Brooks and indeed many others have shown in their various ways, we have become aware that the force and meaningfulness of narrativefictive or not-is dependent not on censorship, simplification, and abstraction, not on linearity and the ego, but on Freud's own "rule," the rule of overdetermination, and the temporally complex accumulations and conjunctions of desire, of the id. What Schafer, in fact, criticizes in current psychoanalytic case studies is the same thing that Freud criticizes in literary narratives-their singular, unidirectional plots, their avoidance of the messiness of the unconsciousness, of the fundamental untidiness of what Freud here calls "the world of reality."

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Given this recent emphasis on narrative in Freudian theory-and, indeed in Lacanian theory as well66-it is not surprising to find a similar stress in other forms of psychotherapy and individual psychology, particularly in those areas where there has been a tradition of studying life-histories and psychobiographies.67 Yet the narrativist turn can also be tracked in other, more experimentally based fields, in, for example, cognitive psychology, where a great deal of attention is being directed to the role of narrative in perception, memory, learning, speech, and thought in general.68 Recent research of this kind has tended to move away from notions of a hierarchical model of cognition, where narrative was felt to be a kind of second-order function, parasitically dependent upon paradigmatic first-order protocols of logico-deductive reasoning, to one where the telling and understanding of stories is seen as being of the same order, level, and importance as the positing and comprehending of arguments. As Jerome Bruner has pointed out, for example: "There are two modes of cognitive functioning, two modes of thought, each providing distinctive ways of ordering experience, of constructing reality. The two (though complementary) are irreducible to one another. Efforts to reduce one mode to the other or to ignore one at the expense of the other inevitably fail to capture the rich diversity of A good story and a well-formed argument are different thought.... natural kinds. Both can be used as means for convincing another. Yet what they convince of is fundamentally different."69 Cognitive studies of narrative have been particularly interested in the way in which human beings develop narrative competence, when and how a child learns the rules of narrative pragmatics, the markers of tellability, the conventions of beginnings, middles, and ends, and so on. Experimental research into narrative practice of this kind has also tended to foreground what indeed many other forms of narrativist inquiry I have spoken of have also pointed out, that narratives, whatever one might think of their ultimate epistemological, pragmatic, cultural, political, ideological, psychological, social, or cognitive consequences, are human constructs that operate by certain conventions, in certain times, places, contexts, and whose claims need to be investigated as well as described, especially at a historical moment when they have been given, as I think I've shown, so much theoretical and institutional prominence. Rather than directly pose this question here, rather than ask why we have come to so trust the tale (which is the next phase of this project),70 I want to end this essay with my only example of a narrative, an admittedly problematic example, from a five-year-old subject of experimental research in the development of story-recognition and

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production, which may serve, if nothing else, to remind us, after the narrativist turn, how far narrative can turn upon itself: Once upon a time the once upon a time at the once upon a time which ate the once upon a time And then the once upon a time which ate the once upon a time ate the princess once upon a time with the king And then the once upon a time died Then the end ate the end The end The end Then the end died Then the end died Then the end died Then the end died And then the end the end the end died The end with a the end The end The end.7'
UNIVERSITY OF WESTERN ONTARIO NOTES 1 I attempt to deal with the reasons for and consequences of the narrativist turn I sketch here in a complementary essay entitled "The Narrativist Turn? The Uses and Abuses of Narrative Theory." 2 See "On Narrative and Narratives," New LiteraryHistory, 6 (1975); Roland Barthes, "An Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narrative," tr. Lionel Duisit, New Literary History, 6 (1975), 237-72. 3 See Lubomir Dolozel, "Commentary," New LiteraryHistory, 6 (1975), 463-68. 4 See "On Narrative and Narratives: II," New LiteraryHistory, 11 (1980); "Narratology I: Poetics of Fiction," Poetics Today, 1, no. 3 (1980); "Narratology II: The Fictional Text and the Reader," Poetics Today, 1, no. 4 (1980); "Narratology and Voices in Fiction," Poetics Today,2, no. 2 (1981). The structuralist/semiotic narrative mainstream still flows unabated, it should be pointed out, as, to take probably the most important example, recent interest in translations and discussions of A. J. Greimas indicates; see, e.g., his On Meaning, tr. Paul Perron and Frank Collins (Minneapolis, 1987), and New LiteraryHistory, 20 (1989), "Greimassian Semiotics," which is devoted to his work. 5 See "On Narrative," Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980); rpt. with additions as On Narrative, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago, 1981). 6 See Ursula Le Guin, "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night; or, Why Are we Huddling about the Campfire?" Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980), 191-99. 7 See Gerard Genette, Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (Ithaca, N.Y., 1980), Figures of LiteraryDiscourse (New York, 1982), and Narrative DiscourseRevisited (Ithaca, N.Y., 1988); Gerald Prince, Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative (Berlin, 1982); Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: ContemporaryPoetics (London,

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1983); Mieke Bal, Narratology: Introductionto the Theoryof Narrative (Toronto, 1985); Frank Kermode, TheAct of Telling:Essayson Fiction (Cambridge, 1983); David Bordwell, Narration in the Fiction Film (Madison, Wis., 1985); J. Hillis Miller, Fiction and Repetition: Seven English Novels (Cambridge, 1982); Meir Sternberg, The Poeticsof Biblical Narrative: Ideological Literature and the Drama of Reading (Bloomington, Ind., 1987); Peter Rabinowitz, Before Reading: Narrative Conventionsand the Politics of Interpretation(Ithaca, N.Y., 1987); D. A. Miller, Narrative and Its Discontents: Problems of Closure in the Traditional Novel (Princeton, 1981); Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (New York, 1984); and Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially SymbolicAct (Ithaca, N.Y., 1981). I discuss these last two books in some detail later in the essay. Also see, e.g., Ross Chambers, Story and Situation: Narrative Seductionand the Power of Fiction (Minneapolis, 1984); Rachel Blau DuPlessis, WomenWriters(BloomWriting beyondthe Ending: Narrative Strategiesof Twentieth-Century ington, 1985); Narrative: FromMaloryto Motion Pictures, ed. Jeremy Hawthorn (London, 1985); Alexander Gelley, Narrative Crossings: Theory and Pragmatics of Prose Fiction (Baltimore, 1987); Wesley A. Kort, Story, Text, and Scripture:LiteraryInterestsin Biblical Narrative (University Park, 1988); Steven Cohen and Linda M. Shires, Telling Stories: A TheoreticalAnalysis of Narrative Fiction (New York, 1988); Molly Hite, The Other Side Feminist Narratives (Ithaca, 1989); of the Story: Structuresand Strategies of Contemporary and J. Hillis Miller, "Narrative," in CriticalTerms LiteraryStudy,ed. Frank Lentricchia for and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago, 1990), pp. 66-79. 8 Jeff Adams, The Conspiracyof the Text: The Place of Narrative in the Developmentof Thought (London, 1986); Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, 3 vols. (Chicago, 198488); Claudia Brodsky, The Imposition of Form: Studies in Narrative Representationand Knowledge (Princeton, 1988); Hayden White, The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation(Baltimore, 1987); Roy Schafer, Narrative Actions in Psychoanalysis (Worcester, Mass., 1981); Didier Coste, Narrative as Communication(Minneapolis, 1989); Edward Bruner, "Ethnography as Narrative," in The Anthropologyof Experience, ed. Victor W. Turner and Edward M. Bruner (Urbana, Ill., 1986), pp. 139-55; Jonathan Ree; PhilosophicalTales:An Essay on Philosophyand Literature(London, 1987); Gayle Ormiston and Raphael Sassower, Narrative Experiments:The Discursive Authority of Science and Technology(Minneapolis, 1989); Christopher Nash, Narrative in Culture: The Uses of Storytelling in the Sciences, Philosophy, and Literature (London, 1990); Donald Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences(Albany, N.Y., 1988); Thomas Leitch, What StoriesAre: Narrative Theoryand Interpretation(University Park, Pa., 1986); Wallace Martin, Recent Theories of Narrative (Ithaca, N.Y., 1986); and Gerald Prince, Dictionary of Narratology (Lincoln, Neb., 1987). Also see Renato Rosaldo, Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis (Boston, 1989), esp. ch. 6, "Narrative Analysis," and ch. 7, "Changing Chicano Narratives," where he argues for a narrative ethnography; and, e.g., Kieran Egan, Teaching as Story Telling: An AlternativeApproachto Teachingand Curriculumin the ElementarySchool (Chicago, 1986); Walter R. Fisher, Human Communicationas Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action (Columbia, S.C., 1987); and Michael Toolan, Narrative: a Critical Linguistic Introduction (London, 1988). 9 See "Narrative Analysis," Poetics, 15 (1986); for similar approaches, also see On Narratives: Proceedingsof the 10th International Colloquiumon Speech Communication, June 22-27, 1986, ed. Hellmut Geissner (Frankfurt am Main, 1987). 10 See Fredric Jameson, Marxism and Form: Twentieth-Century Dialectical Theories of Literature(Princeton, 1971), pp. 309 ff.; I am using the term here in a much broader and less specifically Hegelian sense than Jameson does. 11 I attempt to deal with these issues in another essay, see n. 1 above. 12 See Arthur C. Danto, Narration and Knowledge (New York, 1985); this book can

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be seen, as it were, to revolve around the narrativist turn in philosophy of history: it was originally published, in a shorter form, under the title Analytical Philosophyof History (New York, 1964). Also see, e.g., W. B. Gallie, Philosophy and the Historical Understanding(London, 1964); R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (Oxford, 1946), esp. Part V, and his Essays in the Philosophy of History, ed. William Debbins (New York, 1965); William H. Dray, Laws and Explanation in History(Oxford, 1957); Maurice Mandelbaum, "A Note on History as Narrative," History and Theory, 6 (1967), 41319, and his "The Problem of 'Covering Laws,'" in The Philosophyof History, ed. Patrick Gardiner (Oxford, 1974), pp. 51-65. 13 For Hempel's initial statement of his position, see Carl G. Hempel, "General Laws in History" (1942), in Aspects of Scientific Explanation and Other Essays in the Philosophy of Science (New York, 1965), pp. 231-43. For discussion of aspects of the narrative/non-narrative question as it cuts across various debates within the philosophy of history, see, e.g., R. F. Atkinson, Knowledge and Explanation in History (Ithaca, 1978); Donald E. Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences (Albany, 1988), ch. 3; and Hayden White, "The Question of Narrative in Contemporary Historical Theory," and "The Metaphysics of Narrativity: Time and Symbol in Ricoeur's Philosophy of History," in The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representation(Baltimore, 1987), pp. 27-57, 169-84. 14 See Robert Scholes and Robert Kellogg, The Nature of Narrative (New York, 1966). While Scholes and Kellogg do mention classical historiography (Herodotus, Thucydides, Livy), they do so only to show the root of the "empirical" branch of fictional narratives; no later, nonfictional, or nonscriptural narratives play any significant role in the argument. 15 See Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, 1973). See also his "Rhetoric and History," in Theoriesof History: Papers Read at the Clark Library Seminar, March 6, 1976 (Los Angeles, 1978), pp. 325; The Content of Form; and "'Figuring the Nature of Time Deceased': Literary Theory and History Writing," in The Future of LiteraryTheory,ed. Ralph Cohen (New York, 1989), pp. 19-43. Also see, e.g., Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I and III (Chicago, 1984-88); Louis 0. Mink, in Historical Understanding,ed. Brian Fay, Eugene 0. Golob, and Richard T. Vann (Ithaca, 1987); Frederick A. Olafson, The Dialectic of Action (Chicago, 1979); Dale H. Porter, The Emergence of the Past: A Theory of Historical Explanation (Chicago, 1981); Paul Veyne, Writing History:Essayon Epistemology, tr. Mina Moore-Rinvolucri (Middletown, 1984); F. R. Ankersmit, Narrative Logic: A Semantic Analysis of the Historian's Language (The Hague, 1983); David Carr, Time, Narrative, and History (Bloomington, 1986); Michel De Certeau, The Writing of History, tr. Tom Conley (New York, 1988); and Hans Kellner, Language and Historical Representation: Getting the Story Crooked (Madison, 1989). On narrative as a way of reformulating the relationship between current conceptualizations of history and fiction, see Linda Hutcheon, A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction (New York, 1988). 16 Dominick LaCapra, "A Poetics of Historiography: Hayden White's Tropics of Discourse,"in his Rethinking Intellectual History: Texts, Contexts,Language (Ithaca, 1983), p. 76. 17 F. R. Ankersmit, "The Dilemma of Contemporary Anglo-Saxon Philosophy of History," in Knowing and Telling History: The Anglo-Saxon Debate (Middletown, 1986), p. 21; as Ankersmit says, "When philosophy of history finally joined in the linguistic turn in Anglo-Saxon philosophy it did so under the guise of narrativism" (p. 16). 18 See, e.g., After Philosophy: End or Transformation?,ed. Kenneth Baynes, James Bohman, and Thomas McCarthy (Cambridge, 1987), and Richard Rorty, "Introduction: Pragmatism and Philosophy," and "Philosophy in America Today," in his

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Consequencesof Pragmatism (Minneapolis, 1982), pp. xii-xlvii, 211-30, for a sense of some of the various routes philosophy has taken after the linguistic turn. 19 On recent approaches to the history of philosophy, narrativist and otherwise, see, e.g., Philosophy in History: Essays on the Historiographyof Philosophy, ed. Richard Rorty, J. B. Schneewind, and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge, 1984); and Jonathan Ree, Philosophical Tales: An Essay on Philosophyand Literature (London, 1987). For an interesting rethinking of the methodological use of narrative for philosophic inquiry, see John McCumber, Poetic Interaction: Language, Freedom,Reason (Chicago, 1989). 20 James Bohman, "Alasdair MacIntyre: Introduction," in After Philosophy, p. 381. 21 Alasdair Maclntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, 1981), p. 197; on the unity of human life as narrative, see ch. 15. 22 Martha C. Nussbaum, The Fragility of Goodness:Luck and Ethics in Greek Tragedy and Philosophy (Cambridge, 1987), p. 14. Claudia J. Brodsky, in The Imposition of Form: Studies in Narrative Representationand Knowledge (Princeton, 1987), sees the narrative nature of experience as fundamentally Kantian: "In accordance with formal or mimetic theories of narrative, Kant's system of knowledge can . . . be seen to describe a system of narrative-and to describe experience as the narrative-par excellence. For it ensures both the referential and formal functions of the mind by excluding the occurrence, for the mind, of that which is not already 'known': the formless, the ambiguous, the unrepresented, or unnamed" (p. 10). 23 See Alexander Nehamas, Nietzsche: Life as Literature(Cambridge, 1985), pp. 99100, 162-65. 24 See Gary Shapiro, Nietzschean Narratives (Bloomington, 1989), pp. 22 ff. 25 Pat Bigelow, Kierkegaard and the Problem of Writing (Tallahassee, 1987), p. 8; Christopher Norris, "Fictions of Authority: Narrative and Viewpoint in Kierkegaard's Writing," in his The DeconstructiveTurn: Essays in the Rhetoricof Philosophy(New York, 1983), p. 95. 26 Richard Rorty, "Philosophy in America Today," in Consequencesof Pragmatism, p. 220: "The contrast between the old and the new [in philosophy] is no longer a contrast between an immature prescientific and a mature scientific stage of discussion of a common set of problems, but a contrast between styles-the 'scientific' style and the 'literary' style. The former style asks that premises be explicitly spelled out rather than guessed at, that terms be introduced by definitions rather than by allusion. The latter style may involve argumentation, but that is not essential; what is essential is telling a new story." For a rather different, but not entirely unconnected, discussion of Rorty as a narrativist than the one that follows, see Christopher Norris, "Philosophy as a Kind of Narrative: Rorty on Post-Modern Liberal Culture," in his The Contest of Faculties: Philosophyand Theoryafter Deconstruction(London, 1985), pp. 139-66. 27 Richard Rorty, "The Contingency of Language," in his Contingency,Irony, and Solidarity (Cambridge, 1989), p. 28. 28 Richard Rorty, "Freud and Moral Reflection," in Pragmatism'sFreud: The Moral Disposition of Psychoanalysis,ed. Joseph H. Smith and William Kerrigan (Baltimore, 1986), pp. 1, 17-18, 19-20. 29 On what Ricoeur calls his circle of narrative and temporality, see Paul Ricoeur, "Narrative Time," Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980), 168-90. On the question of viewing "social entities" or "ideas" as narrative agents, see Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, I, 197-206. 30 Richard Rorty, "Self-Creation and Affiliation: Proust, Nietzsche, and Heidegger," in Contingency,Irony, and Solidarity, p. 101; hereafter cited in text as SCA. 31 See Aristotle, Poetics, ch. 9. 32 On Hegel's Phenomenologyof the Spirit as a narrative, also see Ree, Philosophical

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Tales, ch. 3; and M. H. Abrams, Natural Supernaturalism:Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature (New York, 1971), pp. 225-37. 33 See, e.g., Rorty, "The Barber of Kasbeam: Nabokov on Cruelty," and "The Last Intellectual in Europe: Orwell on Cruelty," in Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, pp. 141-88. Rorty's emphasis on small narratives in these essays, I should point out, goes some way toward undermining Norris's criticism of Rorty's reliance on the grand narrative of liberalism; see n. 26 above. 34 Jean-Francois Lyotard, The PostmodernCondition:A Report on Knowledge, tr. Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi (Minneapolis, 1984), p. xxiv; hereafter cited in text as PC. 35 Fredric Jameson, "Foreword," PC, p. xi; Jameson also notes that Paul Ricoeur and Alasdair MacIntyre also "come to mind" in this connection. 36 Jameson, The Political Unconscious, p. 13. 37 See Geoffrey Bennington, Lyotard:Writing the Event (Manchester, 1988), pp. 11415. 38 "Scientific knowledge," Lyotard goes on to say, "cannot know and make known that it is the true knowledge without resorting to the other, narrative, kind of knowledge, which from its point of view is no knowledge at all" (PC, p. 29). There are, as Lyotard notes elsewhere, various "grand narratives under which one attempts to order the crowd of events: Christian narrative of redemption through love of the Adamic fault, aufkldrer narrative of emancipation from ignorance and servitude through knowledge and egalitarianism, speculative narrative of the realisation of the universal Idea through the dialectics of the concrete, Marxist narrative of emancipation from alienation through the socialisation of work, capitalist narrative of emancipation of poverty through techno-industrial development. Between these narratives there is scope for litigation. . . . But all situate the data brought by events in the course of history whose end-point, even if it remains out of reach, is called universal liberty, acquittal of humanity as a whole" (quoted in Bennington, Lyotard, p. 161). Richard Rorty, in "Postmodernist Bourgeois Liberalism," Journal of Philosophy,80 (1983), 58389, sees Lyotard's metanarratives as "stories which purport to justify loyalty to, or breaks with, certain contemporary communities, but which are neither historical narratives about what these or other communities have done in the past nor scenarios about what they might do in the future" (p. 585). 39 See David Carroll, Paraesthetics:Foucault, Lyotard, Derrida (New York, 1987), pp. 159-60. 40 See n. 38 above. 41 Carroll, Paraesthetics,p. 158. 42 In 1977, for example, Lyotard wrote: "It is not at all a question of [civil societies as networks of narratives] standing heroically against States in a sort of deathdefiance. .... If uncertain and ephemeral networks of narratives can gnaw away at the great instituted narrative apparatuses, it's by multiplying somewhat lateral skirmishes as was done [in France] in the last decade by women who had had abortions, by prisoners, by conscripts, by prostitutes, by students, by peasants" (quoted in Bennington, Lyotard, p. 114). 43 Jean-Francois Lyotard, Instructionspaiennes (Paris, 1977), p. 16, quoted in Carroll, Paraesthetics,p. 158; the translation is by Carroll. 44 Richard Rorty, "Habermas and Lyotard on Postmodernity," in Habermas and Modernity, ed. Richard J. Bernstein (Cambridge, 1985), p. 164. 45 Rorty, "Habermas and Lyotard," pp. 164, 174. 46 John Dewey, Reconstructionin Philosophy (Boston, 1948), p. 167. 47 Jameson, "Foreword," PC, p. xii.

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48 Jameson, "Foreword," PC, p. xix. For Lyotard's response and more on the Lyotard-Jameson pole of this debate, see David Carroll, "Narrative, Heterogeneity, and the Question of the Political: Bakhtin and Lyotard," in The Aims of Representation: (New York, 1987), pp. 74-76. On the larger question of postSubject/Text/History modernism and narrative theory, see Christopher Norris, "Narrative Theory or Theory-as-Narrative: The Politics of 'Post-Modern' Reason," in The Contest of the Faculties, pp. 19-46. 49 See Hayden White, "Getting Out of History: Jameson's Redemption of Narrative," in The Content of Form, p. 144. 50 Jameson, The Political Unconscious, pp. 19-20. 51 On the "conditionality" of Jameson's rhetoric here, see White, "Getting Out of History," p. 167. 52 Jameson, The Political Unconscious,p. 49. For interesting commentary on Jameson's ed. position, see Postmodernism/Jameson/Critique, Douglas Kellner (Washington, 1989). 53 Peter Brooks, Reading for the Plot: Design and Intention in Narrative (New York, 1984), p. xi; hereafter cited in text as RP. 54 See Brooks, RP, pp. 13, 24-27. On the use of a binary narrative model, see Jonathan Culler, "Story and Discourse in the Analysis of Narrative," in The Pursuit of Signs: Semiotics,Literature, Deconstruction(Ithaca, 1981), pp. 169-87. 55 For other conceptions of plot see, e.g., Elizabeth Dipple, Plot (London, 1970); Robert L. Caserio, Plot, Story, and the Novel: From Dickens and Poe to the Modern Period (Princeton, 1979); Austin M. Wright, The Formal Principle in the Novel (Ithaca, 1982); Christine Von Boheemen, "The Semiotics of Plot: Toward a Typology of Fictions," Poetics Today, 3, no. 4 (1982), 89-96; Alexander Nehamas, "Mythology: The Theory of Plot," in Essays on Aesthetics, ed. John Fisher (Philadelphia, 1983), 180-97; and Thomas Pavel, The Poetics of Plot: The Case of English RenaissanceDrama (Minneapolis, 1985). 56 There is, of course, no reason for Brooks to limit his speculation to "fictional plots"; other kinds of plots (for instance historical, psychoanalytic) should function no differently. 57 Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea, tr. Lloyd Alexander (New York, 1964), pp. 39-40. 58 On Sartre and the temporal aporias or "double logic" of narrative, see Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (London, 1967), ch. 5; Roy Pascal, "Narrative Fictions and Reality: A Comment on Frank Kermode's The Sense of an Ending," Novel, 11 (1977), 40-50; MacIntyre, After Virtue, ch. 3; and Culler, "Story and Discourse." On the temporal aporias of beginning, rather than ending, narratives and their psychological and epistemological ramifications, see Edward W. Said, Beginnings: Intention and Method (New York, 1975). 59 See, e.g., Michael Sherwood, The Logic of Explanation in Psychoanalysis (New York, 1969), esp. ch. 4 and 6; Steven Marcus, "Freud and Dora: Story, History, Case History," and "Freud and the Rat Man," in his Freud and the Culture of Psychoanalysis: Studies in the Transitionfrom Victorian Humanism to Modernity (Boston, 1984), pp. 42164; In Dora's Case: Freud-Hysteria-Feminism, ed. Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane (New York, 1985); Patrick J. Mahoney, Freud and the Rat Man (New Haven, 1986); Stuart Schneiderman, Rat Man (New York, 1986); Donald P. Spence, "Narrative Smoothing and Clinical Wisdom," in Narrative Psychology:The StoriedNature of Human Conduct, ed. Theodore R. Sarbin (New York, 1986), pp. 211-32; Stanley Fish, "Withholding the Missing Portion: Psychoanalysis and Rhetoric," in The Trial(s) of Psychoanalysis, ed. Franqoise Meltzer (Chicago, 1987), pp. 183-209; Susan Rubin Suleiman, "Nadja, Dora, Lol v. Stein: Women, Madness and Narrative," in Discourse in Psychoanalysisand Literature, ed. Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan (London, 1987), pp.

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124-51; and Avital Ronell, "The Suject Suppositaire: Freud and Rat Man," in On Puns: The Foundation of Letters, ed. Jonathan Culler (Oxford, 1988), pp. 115-39; Evelyn Keitel, Reading Psychosis: Readers, Texts, and Psychoanalysis, tr. Anthea Bell (Oxford, 1989), esp. ch. 4. 60 Sigmund Freud, Studies in Hysteria, vol. 13 of The Standard Edition of the Complete PsychologicalWorksof Sigmund Freud, tr. James Strachey et al. (London, 1953), p. 160. 61 Franqoise Meltzer, "Unconscious," in Critical Termsfor Literary Study, ed. Frank Lentricchia and Thomas McLaughlin (Chicago, 1990), pp. 155-56. 62 See nn. 54 and 59 above. 63 See Donald P. Spence, Narrative Truth and Historical Truth: Meaning and Interpretation in Psychoanalysis(New York, 1982); Roy Schafer, Narrative Actions in Psychoanalysis. Also see Donald P. Spence, "Narrative Recursion," in Discoursein Psychoanalysis in Literature, pp. 188-210; and Roy Schafer; "Narration in the Psychoanalytic Dialogue," Critical Inquiry, 7 (1980), 29-54. 64 Roy Schafer, Narrative Actions in Psychoanalysis,p. 45. 65 Sigmund Freud, Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria, in vol. 7 of The Standard Edition of the CompletePsychologicalWorksof Sigmund Freud, pp. 59-60. Freud is, of course, partly speaking of the prudery of the literary world of his day, the literary writer's inability to deal openly with, say, homosexuality ("the element"). But his criticism seems to be directed much more centrally at the oversimplifications of narrative causation that he perceived in certain fictional plots. I say "certain" because there is no doubt that Freud was also aware of the kinds of "complications of motives," of overdeterminations, to be found in narratives, as in Oedipus, from which, it might be said, he developed the very notion of overdetermination. 66 See, e.g., Lacan and Narration: The PsychoanalyticDifference in Narrative Theory, ed. Robert Con Davis (Baltimore, 1983), and The Fictional Father: Lacanian Readings of the Text, ed. Robert Con Davis (Amherst, 1981). 67 See, e.g., Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, pp. 101-6, 114-19, 146-55; Sarbin, Narrative Psychology, Parts 3 and 4; and Robert Coles, The Call of Stories: Teaching and the Moral Imagination (Boston, 1989). 68 See, e.g., Arthur N. Applebee, The Child's Concept of Story: Ages Two to Seven (Chicago, 1978); Polkinghorne, Narrative Knowing and the Human Sciences, pp. 10714; Mary M. Gergen, "Narrative Structures in Social Explanation," in Analysing EverydayExplanation: A Casebookof Methods (London, 1988), pp. 94-112; and Sarbin, Narrative Psychology,Part 2. 69 Jerome Bruner, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (Cambridge, 1986), p. 11. 70 See n. 1 above. 71 Brian Sutton-Smith, "Children's Fiction Making," in Narrative Psychology,p. 79.

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