Children’s literature

Part I. Theory and critical approaches

 

12. Narrative theory and children’s literature

 

Maria Nikolajeva

 

Conclusion

 

Every theoretical direction is only legitimate if it allows us to disclose dimensions in literary texts that we would not be able to discover with other methods. Narrative theory has given us tools to analyse in detail how texts are constructed, on both macro- and microlevels, and to come closer to understanding why certain devices work more or less successfully in children’s books while others fail. It also facilitates a historical comparison, which pinpoints not only changes in themes and values, but also the profound changes in the aesthetic form of children’s literature. Further, by combining purely narratological studies with other theories and methods (for instance, narratology and psychoanalysis in Brooks 1984, or narratology and feminist criticism in Hohne and Wussow 1994) we may disclose the mutual dependence of form and content, which Structuralism and narratology traditionally neglect. From the examination of structural elements we can proceed to asking how exactly narrative features work as bearers of psychological elements, social values, and ideology.

 

References

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Further reading

Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (1990) ‘Narrative Theory’, 15, 2 (special issue): 46-57. Children’s Literature Association Quarterly (2003) ‘Narrative Theory’ (special issue) 23, 1.

Cobley, P. (2001) Narrative, London: Routledge.

Culler, J. (1975) Structuralist Poetics. Structuralism, Linguistics and the Study of Literature, London: Routledge.

Genette, G. (1988) Narrative Discourse Revisited, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Harvey, W. J. (1965) Character and the Novel, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Hochman, B. (1985) Character in Literature, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Lanser, S. S. (1991) The Narrative Act: Point of View in Prose Fiction, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

- (1992) Fictions of Authority. Women Writers and Narrative Voice, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

McQuillan, M. (ed.) (2000) The Narrative R.eader, London: Routledge.

Martin, W. (1986) Recent Theories of Narrative, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Mitchell, W. J. T. (ed.) (1981) On Narrative, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Onega, S. and Landa, J. A. G. (eds) (1996) Narratology, London: Longman.

Petruso, T. F. (1991) Life Made Real. Characterisation in the Novel since Proust and Joyce, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Prince, G. (1982) Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative, Berlin: Mouton.

Ricoeur, P. (1984-8) Time and Narrative, vols 1-3, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Stanzel, F. K. (1984) A Theory of Narrative, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Toolan, M. J. (1988) Narrative. A Critical Linguistic Introduction, London: Routledge. van Peer, W. and Chatman, S. (eds) (2001) New Perspectives on Narrative Perspective, Albany, NY: SUNY Press.