Cambridge Catalog  
  • Your account
  • View basket
  • Help
Home > Catalog > The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative
The Cambridge Introduction to Narrative


  • 8 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 218 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.362 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 808
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PN3383.N35 A23 2002
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Narration (Rhetoric)
    • Fiction--Technique
    • Women authors, Swiss
    • Women authors, German--Bibliography
    • Women authors, Austrian--Bibliography

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521659697 | ISBN-10: 0521659698)

  • There was also a Hardback of this title but it is no longer available
  • Published February 2002

Replaced by 9780521715157


This study is designed to help readers understand what narrative is, how it is constructed, how it acts upon us, how we act upon it, how it is transmitted, and how it changes when the medium or the cultural context change. Porter Abbott emphasizes that narrative is found not only in the arts but everywhere in the ordinary course of people's lives. An indispensable tool for students and teachers alike, this book will guide readers through the fundamental aspects of narrative.


Preface; 1. Narrative and life: The universality of narrative; Narrative and time; Narrative perception; 2. Defining narrative: The bare minimum; Story and narrative discourse; The mediation (construction) of story; Constituent and supplementary events; Narrativity; 3. The borders of narrative: Framing narratives; Paratexts; The outer limits of narrative; Is it narrative or is it life itself?; 4. The rhetoric of narrative: Causation; Normalization; Masterplots; Narrative rhetoric at work; 5. Closure: Conflict: the agon; Closure and endings; Closure, suspense, and surprise; Closure at the level of expectations; Closure at the level of questions; Absence of closure; 6. Narration: a few words on interpretation: The narrator; Voice; Focalization; Distance; Reliability; Free indirect style; Narration on stage and screen; 7. Interpretation: The implied author; Underreading; Overreading; Gaps; Cruxes; Repetition: themes and motifs; 8. Three ways to interpret narrative: The question of wholeness in narrative; Intentional readings; Symptomatic readings; Adaptive readings; 9. Adaptation across media: Adaptation as creative destruction; Duration and pace; Character; Figurative language; Gaps; Focalization; Constraints of the marketplace; 10. Character and self in narrative: Character vs. action; Flat and round characters; Can characters be real?; Types; Autobiography; Life writing as performative; 11. Narrative contestation: A contest of narratives; A narrative lattice-work; Shadow stories; Motivation and personality; Masterplots and types; Revising cultural masterplots; Battling narratives are everywhere; 12. Narrative negotiation; Critical reading as narrative negotiation; Closure one more time; The end of closure?; Glossary; Index.

Prize Winner

2002 Choice Outstanding Academic Title Award Winner


"Abbott brilliantly zeroes in on the architecture of narrative with an exactness and bent for orderly exposition that utterly redeems his subject....The result is a superb taxonomy of what narrative means today." Chronicle of Higher Education

"Directness, accessibility, and coherence distinguish this brief but comprehensive study of narrative. It is very much the 'introduction' its title asserts because Abbott is consistent in his efforts to identify, explain and define. His approach is down-to-earth, even conversational, and yet he integrates terms or references intrinsic to the study of narrative. The plethora of examples and illustrations - both 'classic' and contemporary, drawn from cirtical and theoretical texts, novels, short stories...films and television - is a major strength making narrative concepts clear....Most highly recommended." Choice

"Written in an unfailingly lucid style that nonetheless refuses to 'dumb down' the major research questions facing analysts of stories, this book provides an ideal starting-point for readers seeking a synoptic overview of

recent scholarship on narrative. More than just a primer for readers unfamiliar with previous research on stories, however, Abbott's book itself represents a significant contribution to the field of narrative studies." David Herman, Symploke

"A lucid, practical, wide-ranging, and...original introduction to narrative, which will be useful to undergraduate and graduate courses on literary theory and criticism. This is not a dry textbook, however; the reader is made aware of a real voice and of a fascination with the role of narrative across many cultures and beyond." Derek Attridge

printer iconPrinter friendly version AddThis