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Gerard Genette

Every story has a narrator. According to Gerard Genette, all stories are told, and only hold the illusion of showing by making the story real with description. Therefore, a story cannot imitate reality. There are varying degrees of telling, with the narrator either more involved or less involved in the story, but there is always a narrator (Guillemette). Gerard Genette described a narration procedure, a procedure which is utilized by both fictional and nonfictional narratives. This narration procedure is also known as the elements of story, and are considered necessary for any story, real or imagined.

The narration procedure has four main components – order, pace, voice, and mode (Genette, 58-68). The novel Humphrey Clinker and the travelogues A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides utilize all four of these elements. Order refers to chronology. Real events, like fictional events, do not always happen in chronological order in a telling of those events. The reader has no way to know if the events are in chronological order unless the reader has a source with the actual chronology of events.

If not, the reader has to take the writing as the correct order (Genette, 58). The term Genette used to signify non-chronological order is “anachrony”, and there are two types – analepis and prolepsis. Analepis is when the narrator tells of an event that happened in the past. Prolepsis is when the narrator anticipates events that will happen. Analepses often explain what had already happened, while prolepses can peak the reader’s curiosity about events that will happen in the future (Guillemette). Pace refers to the speed of narration, both in fictional narratives and factual narratives.

In both cases, pace is sometimes used for efficiency, in forms such as pauses and ellipses. It is governed by the narrator’s judgments regarding the importance of events. For example, if one event in a story is more significant to the reader than another, the narrator will quickly describe the less significant event and slowly describe the more important event (Genette, 63). Voice refers to when the narrator lets his presence appear in the story he is telling. The narrator, because he is letting himself be known in the story, may take on a particular status.

These statuses include heterodiegetic and homodiegetic. Heterodiegetic refers to the narrator being absent from the story he is telling, and homodiegetic refers to the narrator being present in the story as a character (Guillemette). Mode is an employed method or approach, identifiable within a written work. Mode is, essentially, narration. Mode encompasses several elements of story, including summary, thoughts and feelings, and dialogue. Focalization is a part of this method. Genette describes focalization as having three parts – internal, external, and what is known as “zero” focalization.

Internal focalization is when a character describes thoughts and feelings, not only of his own, but of other characters. External focalization is when a character only describes what he or she sees, such as places, acts, and gestures, and not thoughts or feelings. Non-focalization, or “zero” focalization is when events are narrated from an omniscient point of view, such as traditional third person storytelling (Genette, 66-67). The novel Humphry Clinker, by Tobias Smollett, makes use of the internal and external focalizations. There are two apparent main narrators, Matt Bramble and Jery Melford.

Matt Bramble represents internal focalization, and Jery Melford represents external focalization. Bramble focuses on his own thoughts and feelings. Later in the story, he also begins to focus on other characters’ thoughts and feelings, such as Melford’s and Lismahago’s. Bramble is sensitive, and this sensitivity shows through his letters by providing intensity. Melford focuses on the external, on what he sees and hears. His letters provide the basic narrative of the novel, as well as comic relief. Bramble’s and Melford’s letters compliment each other’s letters nicely, providing the balance that is needed in all things.

Melford provides the basic facts of their trip throughout the story. For example, in one of Melford’s early letters, he describes in detail the family’s journey to London. He describes the people he rode in the coach with, including the squire. He depicts the squire as a blushing man, and refers to him as “that animal sitting opposite to my uncle. ” (Smollett, 92). Melford claims that the squire was ashamed to be riding with them. Bramble, in opposition to Melford, examines the significance of the journey. For instance, in a letter to Dr.

Lewis, Bramble says, “What kind of taste and organs must those people have, who really prefer the adulterate enjoyments of the town to the genuine pleasures of a country retreat? ” (Smollett, 139). Bramble is describing how others feel about their homes. At the same time, he is describing how he feels about where he is at. He thinks it is disgusting, and would much prefer the country. The element of voice also applies to Bramble and Melford. Bramble, when he gives his thoughts and feelings, is present in the story he is telling. Because of this, he could be labeled as homodiegetic.

In opposition, Melford does not seem to have a distinctive voice, and therefore he could be considered heterodiegetic. Pace is an important part of any story, including Humphry Clinker. Melford seems to move at a faster pace than Bramble. For instance, Melford seems to describe the trip to London with childish excitement. He seems to tell the story quickly, as if he might forget an extremely important part of the tale if he slowed down (Smollett, 92). Bramble’s letters seem to have a slower pace. Bramble takes his time in telling his viewpoint of the journey.

Bramble uses his words wisely, eloquently describing how he feels about such places. The events of this novel happened before the reader was told about them, therefore, this novel is in non-chronological order. Furthermore, it would also be labeled as analepis, or events that happened prior to the telling. Melford, in his letter to Phillips, tells of a journey that happened before he wrote to Phillips. Melford does not foretell a journey, nor does he write the letter while the journey was taking place. This also applies to Bramble’s letter to Dr. Lewis. Bramble tells Dr.

Lewis of feelings and thoughts he had before he wrote the letter. In the travelogue A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, by Samuel Johnson, external focalization is used frequently. Johnson describes everything he sees, every place he visits. He is totally focused on the sights of Scotland, and seems to almost ignore everything but the sights. For example, even up to the end of his writing, Johnson describes everything he sees, including the Islands’ inhabitants. He seems to slow down and take in his surroundings, not willing to miss a thing. He also goes on to describe the lack of sufficient internal commerce.

Johnson explains that hardly anything has a settled, or even known, price (142). In the travelogue, A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, by James Boswell, like Johnson’s travelogue, is told using external focalization, but also uses internal focalization. Boswell gives both descriptions of what is around him as well as what he is thinking and feeling at that particular moment. For example, in a journal entry dated “Sunday, 22nd August”, Boswell first describes his breakfast guest, and then states that he was “sensible” that day (212). However, instead of focusing on the sights of Scotland, Boswell focuses more on Johnson.

Boswell was Johnson’s traveling companion on the trip to Scotland, of which Johnson wrote his travelogue, however, Boswell did not seem to care as much about the sights as Johnson did. For instance, in a journal entry marked “Monday, 23rd August”, Boswell wrote that a group, including himself, had gathered to present Johnson with “the freedom of the town. ” (216). Boswell then went on to describe how Johnson reacted to the attention. The rest of the journal entry speaks of Johnson. Boswell used external focalization as Johnson did, but Boswell used it on a different subject.

Where Johnson focused on Scotland, Boswell focused on Johnson. Voice is evident in both of these stories. Johnson could be considered heterodiegetic. Like Melford in Humphry Clinker, Johnson describes mostly only what he sees. His personal self does not seem evident in his story. However, Boswell could be considered homodiegetic because he does give his thoughts and feelings in his narrative. For instance, Boswell states that it “gave me great satisfaction to observe the regard, and indeed fondness too… ” (217) when speaking of the presentation of the freedom of the town to Dr.

Johnson. Boswell’s voice is clearly present in his narrative. The pace in both travelogues seems to move quickly. Johnson’s story moved quickly because he utilized only external focalization. Boswell’s story moved quickly even though he utilized both external and internal focalization. Boswell did not linger on unimportant details; he only gave the reader the facts that he/she needed to understand the story. The order, like in Humphry Clinker, is non-chronological. Both Johnson and Boswell told of events that happened before the writing of the travelogues.

For example, in Johnson’s travelogue, this order is evident in a part of the story entitled, “Castle of Col. ” Johnson mentions that “I forgot to examine” a hill (114). The use of the past tense implies that this part of the story was written after it actually happened. All three stories, Humphry Clinker, A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, and A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, possess the four main components of Gerard Genette’s narrative procedure. The elements of this procedure, order, pace, voice, and mode, are essential in all stories.

These three tales are testaments to fine storytelling; they use a formula that has worked for years. Any writer can utilize these elements to create a story, but how the elements are utilized makes the difference between a tale that is well-written, and one that is not. These three stories utilized the elements to incredible extent, and insightful, well-formed stories were created. ? Boswell, James. A Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. ed. R. W. Chapman. Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL. D. New York: Oxford University Press, 1786/1924.

212, 216-217. ? Genette, Gerard. Fiction & Diction. New York: Cornell University Press, 1993. 58-68. ? Guillemette, Lucie. “Narratology. ” Signo: Theoretical Semiotics on the Web. 2009. 26 July 2009. http://www. signosemio. com/Genette/a_narratologie. asp ? Johnson, Samuel. A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland. ed. R. W. Chapman. Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Boswell’s Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL. D. New York: Oxford University Press, 1775/1924. 114, 142. ? Smollett, Tobias. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker. New York: The Modern Library,

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