Cover image for Narrative
Cobley, Paul, 1963-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
London ; New York : Routledge, [2001]

Physical Description:
viii, 267 pages ; 20 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN3383.N35 C63 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This comprehensive, accessible guidebook traces the ways in which human beings have used narrative to make sense of time, space and identity over the centuries. Particular attention is given to:
* early narrative, from Hellenic and Hebraic
* the rise of the novel
* realist representation
* imperialism and narrative
* modernism and cinema
* postmodern narrative
* narrative and new technologies.
With a strong emphasis on clarity and a range of examples from oral cultures to cyberspace, this is the ideal guide to an essential critical topic.

Author Notes

Paul Cobley is the author of the book Introducing Semantics, a teaching guide which outlines the development of sign study. He is also the editor of The Communication Theory Reader and teaches basic communitive studies, communication theory, and popular genre classes at London Guildhall University in the Sir John Cass Department of Art.

Cobley, along with fellow teacher Adam Briggs, wrote the paper "Relevance and Intertextuality in Young People's Reception of Communication." In the paper, Cobley and Briggs dissect the relationship between advertising and social communication.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Dealing with the concept of narrative is complicated, especially since current cultural practice seems to include as narrative everything that can be perceived to have a beginning, middle, and end. This subject, then, is especially appropriate for this new release in the "New Critical Idiom" series, which seeks to provide clear, well-illustrated introductions to literary issues. In the first part, Cobley (communication, London Guildhall Univ.) approaches his subject more or less chronologically, looking at basic terminology and early narratives--oral narratives, Hellenic and Hebraic traditions, mimesis, the epic, the rise of the novel. Discussions then get more elaborate, dealing with issues like modernism and its complications, the cinema, postmodernist meta-narratives, and (this reviewer's favorite) narrative in cyberspace. Most of the book is not so much a history as a series of explanations of terms and concepts, investigations of influences (especially of sister disciplines), and clarifying digressions. There are many illustrations using both well-known works like Conrad's Heart of Darkness and lesser-known stories, films, and radio and television shows. Some of these will not be familiar to the American reader, but probably should be. Generous references to narrative critics and theorists, sound glossary, and excellent bibliography. Highly recommended for undergraduate libraries. T. Loe SUNY College at Oswego

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Prefacep. IX
Acknowledgementsp. X
1 In the beginning: the endp. 1
Story, plot and narrativep. 4
Sequencep. 7
Spacep. 12
Timep. 16
Phylogeny and ontogenyp. 21
2 Early narrativep. 29
Narrative and historyp. 30
Orality, literacy and narrativep. 32
Universality and narrativep. 33
Narrative and identityp. 37
Hellenic and Hebraic foundationsp. 41
Hybridity and the Western traditionp. 51
A voyage to the selfp. 53
3 The rise and rise of the novelp. 56
Mimesisp. 57
Aristotelian mimesisp. 61
Imitation, quotation and identityp. 63
Epic, identity and the mixed modep. 67
Questioning the voice in the Middle Agesp. 70
The low form of the romance and the rise of the novelp. 74
The triple rise thesis and beyondp. 77
Instruction, telling and narrative modep. 81
4 Realist representationp. 88
Secretaries to the nineteenth centuryp. 89
Battles over realismp. 91
Middlemarch and 'classic realism'p. 94
Omniscient narrationp. 100
Realism and the voices of narrativep. 104
Narrative with dirt under its fingernailsp. 107
5 Beyond realismp. 117
Identity and the analysis of Heart of Darknessp. 119
Imperialism and repressionp. 123
Imperialism and sexualityp. 127
Narrative, imperialism and the conflict of Western identityp. 132
The reader and the narrativep. 134
Narrative levelsp. 138
6 Modernism and the cinemap. 146
Writing in lightp. 153
The cinema and modernismp. 163
Just another 'realism'?p. 167
7 Postmodernismp. 171
'Meta' levelsp. 174
Historyp. 179
The decline of the 'grand narrative'p. 183
New technologiesp. 189
8 In the end: the beginningp. 201
Narrative in cyberspacep. 202
Reading narrativep. 205
Diversity and genresp. 209
Closure, verisimilitude and the narrative signp. 215
The future of the narrative signp. 223
Glossaryp. 229
Bibliographyp. 246
Indexp. 261