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 Publications

 Volume 17/1, includes forum "Narrative Selves"
 January 2019

 Volume 16/2, includes forum on Monika Fludernik's Towards a 'Natural' Narratology
 June 2018

 Volume 16/1 includes forum "Modernity and Mobility: Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum "Bildung and the State"
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Response Essay
 Monika Fludernik

 Experience, Affect, and Literary Lists
 Eva von Contzen

 Posthuman Narration as a Test Bed for Experientiality
 Marco Caracciolo

 The Curse of Realism
 Karin Kukkonen

 More than Minds
 Jonas Grethlein

 Toward the Non-Natural
 Maria Mäkelä

 Two Conceptions of Experientiality and Narrativity
 Dan Shen

 Against Nature
 Brian McHale

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Updated Up To 26/06/2018
Volume 9, Issue 2 (June 2011) : 405-430
Always Fiction?
The Limits of Authorial License in Our Mutual Friend
Bernard Harrison
Rubric A: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
Rubric B: Dickens

Abstract

 

This essay concerns the connection between literature and reality. It argues that the existence of such a connection is made possible by the dual role of social practice in founding, on the one hand, human reality (including character), and on the other, linguistic meaning. While an author is free to determine such matters as plot or imagery under the control of nothing stronger than general plausibility and verisimilitude, a far stronger constraint from the side of reality comes into play the moment he sets about deploying the resources of a natural language, which is not his private property but a public possession, whose possibilities of meaning stand before him independently of his wishes, already richly charged with references, both historic and contemporary, to the structures of practice constitutive of the social order from which it has emerged, and the complexities of whose daily intercourse on all levels it serves to mediate. In developing these themes, the essay explores the relationships between fairy tale, language, and reality in Our Mutual Friend, and the way in which Dickens’ language mediates between our “uneasy” sense that, on the one hand, we are reading a fairy tale, or rather a set of interwoven fairy tales, and on the other hand, that the novel is, nevertheless, in some sense a work of “realism,” though not at all concerned with “social reality” in any sense seriously analogous to, say, Mayhew’s London Labour and the London Poor. The title and the epigraph pick up a passage in Cynthia Ozick's early novel Trust: “here was a man who shunned novels on the ground that they were always fiction.” 


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