The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







Narrative is a term which has several and changing meanings. In origin it is a Latin word which came into English via the French language.

A 'narrative' is, originally, a story or part of a story spoken, written or imagined from the viewpoint of one of the (possibly fictional) participants or observers.

According to the literary theorist Mieke Bal, a narrative should satisfy a number of criteria. It should contain both an actor and a narrator; it also should contain three distinct levels consisting of the text, the story, and the fibula; and its contents should be a series of connected events caused or experienced by actors.

In recent years the meaning has been widened to imply the construction of a 'story' from a particular angle or viewpoint. In this form it is often used (and perhaps overused) in intellectual discourse so that even inanimate objects can be said to provide a 'narrative' about a particular subject.

Narrative can also be a synonym for a story or tale.


See also

Other meanings

  • Narrative poetry is poetry that tells a story.
  • Narrative history is a genre of factual historical writing that uses chronology as its framework (as opposed to a thematic treatment of a historical subject).
  • Narrative environment is a contested term that has been used for techniques of architectural or exhibition design in which 'stories are told in space' and also for the virtual environments in which computer games are played and which are invented by the computer game authors.

External links

  • StoryCode - is a free book recommendation service based on the analysis of narrative structures.

Related reading

  • Narrative Discourse, An Essay in Method by Gerard Genette , Cornell University Press 1980: a discussion of narrative in Proust.

Last updated: 09-03-2005 18:37:12