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Why Contextual and Formal Narratologies Need Each Other

作者:申丹  来源:网络转摘  浏览量:9116    2009-10-05 21:07:23

    编者按:这篇论文被首篇发表于美国 JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory Vol. 35, Issue 2 (Summer, 2005), pp. 141-171) ,后面附有在《江西社会科学》上发表的译文(译文被人大复印资料全文转载)

 

Although the situation varies in different countries or with different perspectives (Rimmon-Kenan 134-35), many recent accounts of the development of narratology tell stories of evolution, either from structuralist narratology to poststructuralist narratology (Currie; Onega and Landa), or from classical narratology to postclassical narratology (Herman “Introduction”), or from structuralist narratology to cultural and historical narratology (Nunning), or from “a strictly formalist poetics” to a “contextualist narratology” (Darby 829), 1 or from formal investigation to pragmatic, gender-oriented and ideological investigations that go “beyond form” (Fludernik “Histories”), or from traditional narratology to postmodern narrative theory, with the term “narratology” itself seen as obsolete (Currie 6). These stories vary, some even differ in nature, but one idea is shared in common: the decontextualized formal investigation of generic structures has been and should be abandoned, and narratologists should always take into account contexts (of various kinds—see 2.1). But if we examine respectively narratological theorizing and narratological criticism—often occurring since the late 1980s in the same narratological study—a different picture emerges. In terms of narratological criticism, the picture is indeed one of evolution from a text-based investigation subject to formalist limitations to a more valid and fuller investigation that takes into account contexts and readers. In terms of narratological theorizing, however, the picture is more complicated. Postclassical or contextual narratologies have greatly enriched narratological theorizing in various ways (for a most recent good survey, see Fludernik “Histories”), but when the investigation is concerned with generic textual structures and their generic functions, there is usually no room or no need for the consideration of varied specific contexts. Formal narrative poetics (in the shape of newly-established decontextualized structural models), in effect, has appeared continuously in contextual narratologies, which have also drawn quite extensively on classical narrative poetics in contextual criticisms.

In the second edition of Narratology published by the University of Toronto Press in 1997, Mieke Bal writes in the new preface: “Ten years later, the book was still enough in demand to warrant reprinting it. …the demand for the book did make it obvious that it is an instrument functioning in the public domain that I cannot simply take away” (xiii). This essay will explain, mainly in terms of theoretical validity rather than just in terms of public demand, why one “cannot simply take away” formal narrative poetics. It should, however, be made clear that I am not arguing for the validity of the “formalist” or “structuralist” stance. As discussed by hundreds of theorists over the past 30 years or so, the conception of the text as self-contained, detached from context, is indeed invalid, hence now the universal consensus on the necessity to take account of contexts in narrative interpretation. I am only trying to show the continuing importance of formal narrative poetics in approaches to narrative that give great weight to contextual features. The present study, that is to say, is very much a justification of an important aspect of contextual or postclassical narratologies.

This essay primarily aims at revealing that contextual narratologies and formal narrative poetics have nourished each other over the past twenty years or so. It shows that, within and beyond contextualists’ investigations marked by “dual emphasis on poetics and criticism” (Herman, “Introduction” 3), there exists an unacknowledged triple dialogical relationship: (1) the mutually-benefiting relationship between their new formal theorizing and their contextual criticism; in other words, they develop new formal tools that enable new kinds of contextualized interpretations even as those interpretations sharpen those tools; (2) the mutually-benefiting relationship between their new contributions to formal narrative poetics and classical narratology; in other words, their theoretical contributions both depend upon and expand classical narrative poetics; and (3) the mutually-benefiting relationship between classical narrative poetics and contextualized narratological criticism, the former providing technical tools for the latter, which in turn helps the former to gain current relevance.

 

What Counts as a Contextual/Postclassical Narratology?

      In the early 1960s through 1970s, the term “narratology” had a clear reference: the systematic description of the structures (differentia specifica) of (verbal, fictional) narrative, aimed at establishing a universal grammar of narrative and a poetics of fiction. But since the 1980s, the term “narratology” has been extended to cover the criticism of narratives with narratological tools. As Kathy Mezei observes, “By 1989, feminist narratology had entered another important stage, which saw the transformation of theory and theoretical positioning into praxis” (8). This transformation of theory into praxis is notable not only in feminist narratology, but also, in varying degrees, in other postclassical narratologies. The reason underlying the transformation is not far to seek: since the general academic climate was marked by increasing emphasis on reader and context and since the investigation of generic structures, as will be amply shown below, defies such a consideration, many scholars naturally turned to interpretation or criticism, an area that well accommodates such a consideration. Most postclassical works appear either in the form of narratological analyses of individual narratives or in the form of a combination of “poetics and criticism.”

       While arguing for or agreeing with the broadening of the term “narratology” to cover narratogical criticism, the present study does not subscribe to the tendency to extend the term to narrative studies that engage neither in narratological theorizing nor in narratological practice. A case in point is Sally Robinson’s Gender and Self-Representation in Contemporary Women’s Fiction, which is considered by Mezei as a representative work of feminist narratology (“Introduction” 9-10). Robinson’s study is a radical feminist theory of reading, “concerned with how gender is produced through narrative processes, not prior to them” (198, no.23). Instead of drawing on narratology, Robinson explicitly excludes it through distinguishing her study from those of Robyn Warhol and Susan S. Lanser (ibid.). The distinction between feminist theory/criticism and feminist narratology is bilateral, since, as will be shown below, both Warhol (Gendered) and Lanser (“Towards”, Fictions) have marked off the latter from the former. While both approaches are valuable and indispensable, revealing gender politics from different angles (see Shen “The Future”), it is necessary and helpful to see the difference between them.

      Another case in point is Mark Currie’s “poststructuralist narratology.” Challenging the Kuhnian perspective which sees deconstruction as a linear replacement of structuralism, Currie argues that it would be more realistic to see the new critical approaches since the 1980s as being enabled and resourced by narratology (9-10). Along this line of thinking, deconstruction is treated as a new form of narratology, that is, “poststructuralist narratology”; and the development of narratology becomes one evolving “from deductive science to inductive deconstruction of linguistic knowledge” (46-47). But to view deconstruction itself as a new development of narratology is to overlook the fundamental difference between the two: narratology rests on and operates within narrative conventions, while deconstruction aims at subverting narrative conventions altogether.

      In terms of philosophical positions, it is commonly held that Saussure’s emphasis on the relational nature of language in Course in General Linguistics lent much force to Derrida’s theory of deconstruction. But in effect, in Course in General Linguistics, there are two superficially contending forces at work. One pays great attention to the relation between the signifier and the signified, defining language as “a system of signs in which the only essential thing is the union of meanings and sound-images, and in which both parts of the sign are psychological” (Saussure 15, my empahsis). The other force views language only as a system of “differences. Even more important: a difference generally implies positive terms between which the difference is set up; but in language there are only differences without positive terms” (Saussure 120). Indeed, a Western language consists of signs that are in general totally arbitrary, hence by no means positive terms. But we have to be aware that differences alone cannot generate signification. In English, “sun” (/sΛn/) can function as a sign not only because of its difference from other signs in sound or “sound-image,” but also because of the conventional union between the sound-image “sun” and the signified concept. Given, for instance, the following sound-images “lun”(/lΛn/), “sul” (/sΛl/) and “qun” (/kwΛn/), although each can be identified by its difference from the others, none of them can function as a sign, because there is no established conventional “union between meanings and sound-images.” When commenting on Saussure’s theory of language in Positions and other works, Jacques Derrida pays attention exclusively to Saussure’s emphasis on language as a system of differences among the signifiers, to the neglect of Saussure’s emphasis on the relation between the signifier and the signified. As we all know, Saussure in Course in General Linguistics distinguishes three arbitrary relations in the formation of language: (1) the arbitrary system of differences among signifiers; (2) the arbitrary system of differences among signifieds (the way that languages cut up meaning into individual signifieds is arbitrary and varies from language to language), and (3) the conventional connection of a given signifier to a given signified. Since Derrida does not pay attention to (3), the connection between (1) and (2) cannot be established for the simple reason that (3) functions as the only and the indispensable link between (1) and (2). Without (3), language becomes a play of signifiers themselves, which cannot be connected to any signifieds, and meaning naturally becomes forever indeterminable. Now, it goes beyond the scope of the present study to investigate further the philosophical positions of structuralist narratology and deconstruction. Suffice it to say that the two hold opposite views towards the signifying function of language and narrative conventions, and should not be treated as two successive stages of development.

      This, however, does not mean that narratologists are not influenced by poststructuralism. Under the positive influence of poststructruralism, narratologists in general have become more realistic and have modified the original tone of objectivity, certainty, or finality. They acknowledge that any narratological model is only a “heuristic tool” (Bal, Narratology xiii), “a semiotic system of interdependent concepts and terms” (Kafalenos 41), or “a conceptual framework, a set of hypotheses having explanatory power” (Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 140). And under the positive influence of deconstruction, some narratologists have directed attention to various kinds of uncertainty or undecidability in literature. Rimmon-Kenan, for instance, investigates “undecidability concerning the narrator’s identity and structural position vis-a-vis the events narrated” (A Glance 3-4) in a type of twentieth-century experimental fiction. But as the term “structural” indicates, Rimmon-Kenan acknowledges the existence of the “manipulation of narrative levels” or “specific strategies of storytelling” (3), which forms a striking contrast to Staney Fish’s poststructuralist view that “formal patterns are themselves the products of interpretation” (Is There 267; for a response, see Shen “Stylistics”). 

       In terms of Mark Currie’s account, a notable consequence of the story of evolution from structuralist narratology to poststructuralist narratology is to exclude the real “narratology” from recent scene: “In short, poststructuralists moved away from the treatment of narratives (and the language system in general) as buildings, as solid objects in the world, towards the view that narratives were narratological inventions construable in an almost infinite number of ways” (Currie 3, my emphasis). What we have here is in effect a story of the subversion or replacement of narratology by poststructuralism. Narratology, however, has survived and has been developing together with poststructuralism. The survival of narratology is made possible primarily by the coming into existence of various contextual or postclassical narratologies. The point is that a contextual or postclassical narrative study should not be considered “narratological” unless it asks “narratological questions” or uses “narratological methods and analytic categories” (Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 144). Only in this way, can we perceive how contextual or postclassical narratologies and formal narrative poetics have been benefiting from each other.

 

Feminist Narratology

       Feminist narratology has played a pioneering and significant role in preserving and enriching formal narrative poetics. Feminist narratology came into being in North America in the 1980s when structuralist narratology was very much excluded from the scene by the joint forces of poststructuralist and sociohistorical/political approaches. Under such circumstances, both Susan S. Lanser and Robyn Warhol, the two founding and leading figures of feminist narratology, helped to save formal narrative poetics through (1) arguing for its usefulness and relevance, (2) enriching formal narrative poetics, (3) applying classical narratological tools in the criticism of narratives in sociohistorical contexts.

(a) Theoretical Defense

      Faced with a situation where “no contemporary theory, whether Anglo-American or continental, has exerted so little influence on feminist criticism or been so summarily dismissed as formalist-structuralist narratology,” Lanser explores “the compatibility of feminism and narratology” (“Toward” 611) and argues that the “necessarily semiotic nature of even a revised narratology will help to balance feminist criticism’s necessarily mimetic commitments. The comprehensiveness and care with which narratology makes distinctions can provide invaluable methods for textual analysis” (ibid. 614).

      Another defense of narratology comes from Robyn Warhol who, in her Gendered Interventions, asserts that narratology “can do what feminist aesthetic criticism, for example, cannot do: describe exactly what the conventions of fictional discourse are and how they operate” (13). That is to say, “narratolgy” can help describe “differences that might occur among the structures in men’s and women’s texts,” which “would be the first step in developing a poetics of gendered discourse” (15).

Significantly, the defenses from Lanser and Warhol display quite consistent omission of the epithet “structuralist.” These are defenses of narratology as formal investigation of generic textual structures (formal narrative poetics), not of the “structuralist” philosophical stance. And this is a position the present study shares.

(b) Theoretical Preservation and Enrichment

      While defending (structuralist) narratology, feminist narratology, as a contextualist approach, is unequivocally critical of purely formal narratological investigations. The criticism centers on two related issues: (1) being gender-blind, and (2) decontextualization. In The Narrative Act, a study attempting “to forge a feminist poetics of point of view”(Lanser, “Towards” 611), Lanser criticizes structuralist narratology for, among other things, an “adherence to a supposedly value-free methodology; and most critically, an isolation of texts from extraliterary contexts and from their ideological base” (39). Holding a similar contextualist stance, Warhol says,

[Genette] never hints at the possibility of any gender-based differences or patterns among narrative structures. Neither Gerald Prince nor Mieke Bal, in their less specific and more comprehensive presentations of narratology, mentions gender as a factor influencing the models they describe. The oversight is not a sexist one: not only gender, but all variables of context remain outside of classical narratology’s realm. As proponents of structuralism, the first practitioners of narratology lifted texts out of their contexts in order to distill from them the essential structures that characterize all narrative” (Gendered 4).

Warhol appreciates Mieke Bal’s shifting “the emphasis of her scholarship” from decontextualized classical narratology “to semiotics, where she can study recurring textual signs and structures in the context of the cultures that produce them” (ibid.).

      But a close look at the theoretical distinctions Lanser and Warhol themselves propose will reveal that the investigation of generic structures, in striking contrast with narratological criticism, defies, by nature, the consideration of specific sociohistorical contexts. Attention will be directed first to two distinctions made by Lanser: (1) that between public and private narration, and (2) that between authorial, communal and personal voice. Concerning the former, Lanser writes, “By public narration I mean simply narration (implicitly or explicitly) addressed to a narratee who is external (that is, heterodiegetic) to the textual world and who can be equated with a public readership; private narration, in contrast, is addressed to an explicitly designated narratee who exists only within the textual world” (“Towards” 620). Not surprisingly, Lanser’s distinction is very much decontextualized and gender-indifferent. Indeed, as far as such structural classifications themselves are concerned, diversified specific contexts only form irrelevant digressions. As Lanser points out, “a major benefit of narratology is that it offers a relatively independent (pre-textual) framework for studying groups of texts” (“Towards” 611). While the investigation of groups of texts (as communicative acts) needs to take account of the varied contexts in which the texts are produced and interpreted, the establishment of the relatively independent or pre-textual framework necessarily requires lifting texts (as structural illustrations) “out of their contexts in order to distill from them the essential structures” concerned. As for the distinction between the different kinds of “voice” (Lanser, Fictions 16-21), while there is only one “personal voice” and one “authorial voice” in the abstract form with “conventionally distinct modes of authority” (Lanser, The Narrative 137), the reasons underlying the choice of a mode in different narratives may vary from context to context. Lanser’s penetrating and illuminating investigations well reveal how the interaction between decontextualized structural properties and contextualized gender differences determines the choice of a narrative mode in sociohistorical contexts.

Significantly, Lanser’s narratological theorizing helps not only to preserve but also to enrich formal narrative poetics. A most valuable enrichment is found in Lanser’s distinction of “communal voice,” which is “a category of underdeveloped possibilities that has not even been named in contemporary narratology” (Lanser, Fictions 21). By “communal voice,” Lanser means “a practice in which narrative authority is invested in a definable community and textually inscribed either through multiple, mutually authorizing voices or through the voice of a single individual who is manifestly authorized by a community” (ibid.) Lanser distinguishes three forms of “communal voice”: “a singular form in which one narrator speaks for a collective, a simultaneous form in which a plural ‘we’ narrates, and a sequential form in which individual members of a group narrate in turn” (ibid.). The “communal voice” was previously neglected probably because, “[u]nlike authorial and personal voices, the communal mode seems to be primarily a phenomenon of marginal or suppressed communities” (Lanser, Fictions 19). Lanser discovered this mode through her investigation of women’s texts. While the use of this mode by women writers undoubtedly calls for contextualized analysis, the theoretical classification of this mode and its different forms (singular, simultaneous and sequential) requires lifting texts out of their varied specific contexts “in order to distill from them the essential” structural properties concerned. Thus, although the authorial mode has been used more frequently by men and the communal mode mostly, if not only, by women in sociohistorical contexts, Lanser’s theoretical distinction in itself does not reflect this gendered or culture-determined difference. It is true that Lanser does mention “narrative authority,” but what is involved in such abstract theoretical distinctions is only “conventionally distinct modes of authority.” The gender-indifferent and decontextualized structural distinction leaves room for the investigation of “communal voice” in men’s texts – at least it may be found in texts by colored and/or working-lass men. And even if men writers—of whatever class or color—in the past have not yet used this mode, certain men writers in the future may do so for various reasons. It should be stressed that, as in the case of “authorial” or “personal” voice, we recognize “communal” voice or its “singular,” “simultaneous” and “sequential” forms not because of the gender of the author, nor because of any given sociohistorical context, but because of the “essential” structural properties involved.  

      The discovery by Lanser of this mode points to the importance of studying women’s texts in order to build up a more comprehensive narrative poetics. Given the fact that this mode has appeared more frequently, if not exclusively, in women’s texts, not paying sufficient attention to women’s texts can easily lead to the neglect of this mode. Although most narrative structures and techniques are shared by men’s and women’s texts, women writers in sociohistorical contexts may use much more frequently certain techniques and may produce certain types of plot that are not shared by men’s texts (Lanser “Towards”; Page). Thus the investigation of women’s narratives may lead to the discovery not only of neglected modes of narration, but also of new types of plot.

It should, however, be stressed that, insofar as the classification of generic structure is concerned, individual narratives merely serve as formal illustrations. In making the distinction between plot of resolution and plot of revelation, Seymour Chatman has chosen only two women’s texts for illustration: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice for plot of resolution, and Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway for plot of revelation (Story 47-8). This choice of women’s texts, however, does not make Chatman’s classification any more feminine than previous models. The theoretical distinction is purely formal, and the two women’s texts merely function as illustrations of “essential” structural properties, serving the same illustrative role as men’s texts of the same types. In order to build up a comprehensive narrative poetics, one should not neglect any type of texts – whether by men or women, white or colored, upper-class or working-class writers. On a wider scale, “general narratology” has been, and can be, continuously enriched by extending its scope of investigation into new fields and new media (see Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 137-47; Sternberg 300; Chatman Coming; Prince, “On Narratology” 79, Phelan & Rabinowitz).

      Attention will now be directed at Robyn Warhol’s distinction between distancing and engaging narrators. In Gendered Interventions, Warhol writes:

A narrator who provides so much information about the narratee that the addresee becomes, as Prince says, “as clearly defined as any character” necessarily places a distance between the actual reader and the inscribed “you” in the text (“Introduction” 18). Such a narrator I call distancing. But not every narrator who intervenes to address a narratee does so to set the actual reader apart from the “you” in the text. Another kind, which I call engaging, strives to close the gaps between the narratee, the addressee, and the receiver... (29, my emphasis)

Again, not surprisingly, this distinction is as agendered and decontextualized as classical narratological distinctions. Warhol makes it clear that she “would not claim that engaging strategies are specific to women’s texts, nor that distancing strategies occur exclusively in men’s” (17). While the theoretical classification is agendered and decontextualized, the actual choice and usage of those narrative strategies are related to gender differences and determined by sociohistorical contexts. Warhol finds that the “distancing” strategies dominate novels signed by men and the “engaging” strategies dominate novels signed by women in the mid-nineteenth century (17), a preference related to the different ends the women and men used the discourse of realist fiction in the socio-historical contexts (18).

      In Warhol’s study, there can be clearly seen not only the borderline between decontextualized “terminological distinctions” and contextualized criticism, but also the demarcation between decontextualized generic rhetorical effects and the specific contexts of interpretation. After showing how the engaging strategies in Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin failed to engage a critic, Warhol observes:

Discrepancies such as this between narrators’ moves and audiences’ responses warrant mention here: strategies are rhetorical features of texts, choices of technique indicating novelists’ apparent hopes about the emotional power their stories might wield. Strategies can misfire; they guarantee nothing. A reader’s response cannot be enforced, predicted, or even proven. …The participial forms of the terms distancing and engaging are not meant to imply an action that a text or a narrator could take upon a reader, but rather to identify the rhetorical moves these strategies represent. (Gendered 25-26, original italics and my boldface)

While feminist critics tend to lay emphasis on feminist reading positions (Fetterley, Schweickart, Robinson), Robyn Warhol, as a feminist narratologist, sets store by the narrative strategies and their generic rhetorical effects. This emphasis is shared by Lanser, who is concerned with what effects a narrative technique “can generate,” with its “potential for reader manipulation” (The Narrative 28-9). The reader’s recognition of the generic function of a narrative technique very much depends upon decontextualized literary or narrative competence (Culler 113-30; Prince, Dictionary 65). If an actual reader does not grasp the generic effect of a narrative technique, it will be taken as a misunderstanding of the rhetorical move by the novelist; and in terms of the novelist, it will be taken as a failure of her application of that technique.

      However, the narrative conventions upon which the generic effects of narrative techniques partly rest may not be shared by all times. As we know, narrative techniques are produced and used in sociohistorical contexts. For instance, the frequent appearance of variable internal focalization instead of “omniscience” in modern fiction has to do with the more skeptical and more individualized sociohistorical context after the First World War. If such a modern technique were used in a literary work set in the Middle Ages, it would most probably be out of place, since the narrative conventions (connected with people’s view of the world) were quite different back then (cf. Chatman, Coming 198-99). Nevertheless, once a narrative technique comes into existence, its generic effects and the relevant narrative conventions usually remain quite stable over a long period of time, since both are associated with the “essential” structural properties of the technique. Not surprisingly, the “distancing” and “engaging” effects associated with Warhol’s dual distinction or the different degrees of authority associated with Lanser’s tripartite distinction3 have remained somewhat unchanged and may remain fairly stable in the foreseeable future.

(c) The Case of Sex as a Formal Category

Interestingly, Susan Lanser’s study of women’s texts has led her to formalize and decontextualize “sex” as a narratological category. In “Sexing the Narrative,” Lanser writes,

Written on the body leads me to recognize that sex is a common if not constant element of narrative so long as we include its absence as a narratological variable. Such an inclusion allows us to make some very simple formal observations about any narrative: that the sex of its narrator is or is not marked and, if marked, is marked male or female, or shifts between the two….While the narrator’s sex is normally unmarked in hetetodiegetic texts, sex is an explicit element of most homodiegetic, and virtually all autodiegetic, narratives of length….One might well classify heterodiegetic and homodiegetic narratives according to their marking or non-marking of sex and according to the ways in which sex gets marked: overtly, through explicit designation, or covertly, through conventional aspects of gender that suggest but do not prove sex (87, original italics and my boldface).

This theoretical distinction of “sex” is, not surprisingly, as formal and decontextualized as classical structural distinctions. In the case that the narrator’s sex is unmarked or marked only covertly, the readers’ inference of the narrator’s sex may vary from individual to individual or from context to context, but the theoretical distinction between “marked” and “unmarked” or between “covertness” and “overtness” has to be made in an abstract and decontextualized way. This case lends strong support to the point I have been driving at: the classification of generic structures defies, by nature, contextualization or requires, by nature, leaving aside the consideration of sociohistorical contexts. In a similar fashion, we could formalize the narrator’s race, class, religion, ethnicity, education, marital status or sexual preference, all of which can be either “marked” or “unmarked,” and if marked, can be marked either “overtly” or “covertly” in the text. Once an attempt is made to theorize those non-structural elements as “narratological” categories, it also becomes necessary to lift the texts out of their contexts and to distill from them the distinguishing properties concerned. Such non-structural elements, that is to say, cannot enter the realm of narratogical theory unless they are transformed into decontextualized formal distinctions. Now, contextualist narratologists “argue for the need to inquire into the intentions, motivations, interests, and social circumstances of real authors and audiences. Failure to make this kind of inquiry, they believe, dooms narratology to a treatment of narrative as a ‘detached and decontextualized entity’” (Chatman, “What” 314). But as far as the investigation of generic structures is concerned, there is, in effect, nothing wrong with decontextualization, since this is the only possible way to do it—even in the case of “sex.”

(d) Transforming Narratological Criticism

       Because of formalist limitations, earlier structuralists severed texts from their contexts of production and interpretation in narratological criticism. This defect was fortunately redressed by contextualist narratologies, with feminist narratology taking the lead. Without this timely transformation, narratological criticism could not have survived at least in North America.4 By successfully combining a narratological perspective with historical and ideological issues, contextualist narratologies “counter the view that narratology’s formalism entails its futility in the face of social concerns” (Bal, “The Point” 750). As demonstrated by numerous brilliant feminist-narratological analyses (see, for instance, Bal Death; Warhol Gendered and “The Look”; Lanser Fictions; Mezei Ambiguous; Case Plotting and “Gender”), the “more precise such an analysis is, the better it helps to position the object within history” (Bal, “The Point” 750).

      Feminist narratologists, while proposing new structural distinctions such as those mentioned above (see also Warhol “Neonarrative”), have been drawing extensively on classical narrative poetics. If 1989 “saw the transformation of theory and theoretical positioning into praxis” in feminist narratology, the narratological tools used in the praxis are for the most part classical ones. Such applications on the one hand confirm the validity and usefulness of classical distinctions and on the other help classical models to gain current relevance. In September 2002, Routledge published the second edition of Rimmon-Kenan’s Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics, after having reprinted it eight times since its first appearance in 1983; and 2005 sees the publication of The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory, which provides “ample coverage of structuralist models” (Herman et al. x), implying the usefulness and current relevance of formal narrative poetics. A significant contribution contextualist narratologies have made to formal narrative poetics is that they demonstrate how decontextualized and gender-indifferent pre-textual frameworks can prove highly useful in contextualised criticism.

      In short, feminist narratologists borrow from and make new contributions to formal narrative poetics. Their investigations, like contextual investigations in general, actually develop a triple dialogical relationship between formal narrative poetics and contextualized criticism as specified in the last paragraph of the beginning part of this essay.

 

Cognitive Narratology

      In the narratoloical field, as in many other fields such as linguistics and stylistics, the past ten years or so have witnessed a notable cognitive turn, giving rise to a thriving contextual approach “cognitive narratology.” As distinct from feminist narratology that sets store by real authors in sociohistorical contexts, the contextualization of cognitive narratology is oriented towards readers’ mental models in the reception process (see, for instance, Herman Narrative). To clarify the nature and different strands of cognitive narratology, attention will first be directed to a distinction between different kinds of context and different kinds of audience.

(a) Predominance of “Generic Context” and “Generic Audience”

      Basically, contexts can be divided into two kinds, one is generic or conventional, and the other specific or sociohistorical. In terms of the former, we may take a brief look at speech-act theory. Speech-act theory is often concerned with the forces of verbal acts in conventional situational contexts, such as a classroom, a church, a court-trial, a conversation, trying to find a gas station, a newspaper article, a novel, an avant-garde novel etc., where the speaker and the addressee are stereotyped social roles (a teacher, a student, a driver, a priest, a judge etc.). Such contexts are, or are implicitly treated as, agendered and ahistorical. As illustrated by Mary Louise Pratt’s Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse, when discussing the generic structures, functions and conventions of (types of) literary discourse, the exclusive concern with the generic situational contexts (e.g. the literary speech situation) is right and proper. But when it comes to the interpretation of a given work, the specific sociohistorical contexts of production and reception need to be taken into account.

      Insofar as narrative is concerned, the two different kinds of context call into being two different kinds of audience: one is what I would like to call “generic audience,” that is, audience who are equipped with “narrative competence” and who share the same narrative conventions as typically embodied by stereotypic assumptions, expectations, frames, scripts, plans, schemata, or mental models in narrative comprehension. The other can be termed “the audience of a given narrative,” comprising four reading positions as first classified by Peter J. Rabinowitz in “Truth in Fiction”: the flesh-and-blood audience (the reading position related to a reader’s particularity and social identity), the authorial audience (the postulated or implied reading position, which is aware of the fictitiousness of the work), the narrative audience (that part of the reading consciousness which treats the fictional world as real), and the ideal narrative audience (the reading position “for which the narrator wishes he were writing”) (134).5 Apparently, what I call “generic audience” excludes the consideration of flesh-and-blood individuals across contexts, and is to be distinguished from the authorial and narrative audience of a given narrative in emphasis or focus.

       To gain a full picture, we may go further to distinguish the following three types of study of interpretations:

1)    The study of the understanding of (a type of) narrative as a genre, or of certain structural features as generic features.

2)    The study of the interpretation of the thematic significance of a given narrative (or the function and effect of textual features in relation to the thematic significance of a given narrative). It needs to consider the contexts of production and interpretation, including the different responses of flesh-and-blood individuals.

3)    The study of real people’s understanding of real events as “narrative” in the real world. Depending on whether the study is to reveal general cognitive characteristics or different individuals’ different perspectives, the study will focus either on shared conventions (an individual as a representative of (a category of) people in general) or on different individuals’ particularity.

      It is significant to note that cognitive narratology in general focuses on the first kind of interpretation, which involves only the “generic audience” and the “generic context” of narrative reception, leaving aside the varied sociohistorical contexts. Even if the investigation is based on empirical experiments, cognitive narratologists tend to try to uncover from varied reception processes shared models or mechanisms of narrative comprehension (see, for instance, Ryan, “Cognitive”).

(b) Preserving and Enriching Formal Narrative Poetics

       Although cognitive narratological investigations vary in theoretical heritage, modus operandi, scope, focus, exemplification or the analytical tools adopted, they in general have the following feature in common. While investigating the functioning of interpretive strategies in narrative understanding, the analysts acknowledge and pay great attention to the role of textual structures, since in their view narrative comprehension is fundamentally a process of (re)constructing storyworlds on the basis of textual cues and the inferences that the cues make possible (Herman, Story 6).6 Cognitive narratology, that is to say, may be characterized as “the investigation of mental processes and representations corresponding to the textual features and structures of narrative” (Bortolussi & Dixon 24). Precisely because of the importance of “textual features and structures,” formal narrative poetics helping gaining a better understanding of this aspect is complementary to the cognitive approach focusing on audience’s reception. The latter approach in its turn complements the former by revealing various kinds of “interesting cognitive mechanisms” (Jahn 168). Despite the significant cognitive advancement, one narratological aspect has remained unchanged: the models built up by cognitive narratologists to account for “the textual features and structures” are usually as formal and decontextualized as classical structural models, thereby constituting, in effect, a preservation and development of formal narrative poetics.

        I’ll start with David Herman’s Story Logic, which rethinks “narrative as a strategy for creating mental representations of the world” (5), and which, while emphasizing the contextualization of formal description, well demonstrates the complementary relation between decontextualized narratological theorizing and contextualized narratological criticism. The complementary relation is particularly notable in chapter 9 entitled “Contextual Anchoring,” a concept defined as “the process by which cues in narrative discourse trigger recipients to establish a more or less direct or oblique relationship between the stories they are interpreting and the contexts in which they are interpreting them” (8). Using Edna O’Brien’s 1970 novel A Pagan Place as a case study in second-person narration, the chapter focuses on the second person “you” as a special case of person deixis. Herman observes, “In some cases, at least, narrative you does not simply or even mainly refer to storyworld participants but also (or chiefly) addresses the interpreter of the narrative. And sometimes a single instance of narrative you both refers and addresses. The result then is a fitful and self-conscious anchoring of the text in its contexts” (332). While the actual occurrences of narrative you in specific narratives are anchored in contexts, once an effort is made to classify the different types of you as a theoretical framework, the cognitive narratologist is left with no choice but to lift the texts out of their contexts in order to distill from them the structural properties concerned. Herman offers a comprehensive classification of five types of you in second-person fictions: (a) generalized you, (b) fictional reference, (c) fictionalized (=horizontal) address, (d) apostropic (=vertical) address, (e) double deictic you (345). The different types are all determined solely by “essential” structural properties. The first two, for instance, are “marked by an uncoupling of the grammatical form of you from its deictic functions” (340). Type (a) is impersonal, generalized, “pseudo-deictic,” or “non-deictic” (ibid.). Type (b), in contrast, refers to the narrator-protagonist by what Margolin calls “deictic transfer”. In making the classification, the various examples Herman cites from A Pagan Place only serve as structural illustrations, playing the same illustrative role as the hypothetical example offered on page 341 (“When you’re hot, you’re hot—”).

      In Herman’s classification, each type of you has its generic function, which is shared by different occurrences of the same type across contexts and which is therefore to be distinguished from contextualized significance. Further, leaving aside the generalized you, a type that can be found in all kinds of narration, the generic functions of the other types of you are based, to a certain extent, on the generic functions of (certain types of) second-person narration. Precisely because Herman’s classification of the different types of “you” is based on generic textual features without being affected by the diversity of readers and contexts in the same genre, the classification yields valuable “new tools for the poetics of second-person fiction” (Herman, Story 337).

       In Herman’s study, as in cognitive narratological investigations in general, what is focused on is the first type of interpretation as classified above: the understanding of (a type of) narrative as a genre, or of certain structural features as generic features. As far as this type is concerned, a reception-oriented approach has the capacity for seeing the interaction among textual cues, generic conventions and generic interpretive strategies (mental models, frames, scripts, schemata etc.), which are very much interrelated or mutually dependent. Textual cues are a result of the author’s writing the text in a certain way based on generic conventions and with the relevant reading strategies in view. Generic conventions are given rise to by a joint function of generic textual features (as produced by authors whose writing helps make a new genre or expands an existing genre) and generic interpretive strategies (adopted by readers and expected by authors). And generic interpretive strategies are based on generic textual features and generic conventions.

      Primarily because of the capacity for taking account of the interaction, cognitive narratology has been in recent years widely hailed as an approach superior to the text-based formal narrative poetics. In Pcychonarratology, Marisa Bortolussi and Peter Dixon offer a comprehensive summary of various reception-oriented approaches, concluding, “In all these disciplines, this emphasis on the recipient of narratives can be seen as the result of a paradigm shift that exposed and transcended the limitations of purely formalist models” (2, my emphasis). Moreover, Bortolussi and Dixon take issue with other reader-oriented scholars for failing to carry out an empirical approach: “In general, to expand on what might plausibly be attributed to the reader, narratologoists and reader-response theorists have generated a hypothetical description of readers’ knowledge and inferences with little grounding in objective evidence….The result is a circular kind of logic: The characteristics of a text provide evidence for various narrative competencies, and the existence of a particular competence provides the evidence for a particular characteristic of the text” (168). What they advocate is to study “actual, real readers, and to ground one’s analysis of the reading process in empirical evidence on how readers process narrative forms” (168-69). Interestingly but not surprisingly, while theoretically excluding the text-based approach and the “generic reader”-oriented approach, both are adopted in Bortolussi and Dixon’s own three-step investigation: “we first provide a framework for understanding the relevant textual features; then we discuss some hypotheses for related reader constructions; and finally, we report some empirical evidence that supports these hypotheses. Each of these aspects is taken up in turn” (184-185).

      While formal narrative poetics is only concerned with generic textual structures (and their generic functions) with no capacity for dealing with actual readers’ responses in varied contexts, an empirical approach to varied actual readers’ responses, similarly, will be hard put to it to work out models of generic textual structures (but of course, one can uncover shared mechanisms of narrative reception). The failure to see clearly this division of labor is a fundamental reason underlying many criticisms of formal narrative poetics. While criticizing Gérard Genette for failing to take into account “the type of reader, the nature of the text, and pragmatics of the reading context” in his theoretical discussion of focalization (Bortolussi and Dixon 177-78), Bortolussi and Dixon’s own theoretical discussion of focalization, not surprisingly, is just as reader-free and context-free. Their “psychonarratological approach” has synthesized, “from the relevant scholarship in narratology and linguistics,” three categories as the theoretical framework of focalization: (1) descriptive reference frames, (2) positional constraints, and (3) perceptual attributions (186-189). The first category is further divided into “relative reference frames” (e.g. “Some times a dog would howl in the distance”, where we have “perceptual information relative to the location of a potential perceiver”) and “external reference frames” (e.g. “The lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles,” where the reference frame is “determined by axes found in the story world, independent of any potential perceiver”). The second category “positional constraint” is the textual “constraint on the location of an agent who might have perceived the information,” while the third category “perceptual attribution” consists of textual cues “suggesting a perceiver.” Whatever the modification of earlier models, Bortolussi and Dixon’s classification of textual features is as decontextualized as classical narrative poetics. What is crucial is to preserve the borderline between “the objective features of the text” and “the potentially variable reader constructions” (Bortolussi and Dixon 198), a borderline that is kept quite clear in Bortolussi and Dixon’s own three-step investigation: “Having discussed some categories of textual features related to perceptual information, the important question that should be considered is how such cues are processed by readers. …We present here several ideas concerning one aspect of the representations readers may construct in processing perceptually salient descriptions. Subsequently, we report some evidence in support of these ideas” (191, my emphasis).

       The three-step investigation well demonstrates the co-validity of, and the mutually-benefiting relationship among, the different kinds of inquiry: (1) the decontextualized investigation of generic textual structures; (2) the investigation of hypothetical generic reader’s understanding of narrative, and (3) the empirical study of actual readers’ cognitive processes. The first decontextualized approach, which provides “a stable landing” or “a theoretical bedrock” (Phelan and Rabinowitz 1), paves the way for the latter two. The third, that is, the empirical, verifies or challenges the conclusions drawn by the second concerned with hypothetical narrative understanding. And the hypothetical and the empirical can shed light on the limitations of the first, promoting its further development.

      

“Strong” Versus “Weak” Contextualist Position

       In order to gain a better understanding of the complementary relation between contextualist narratologies and formal narrative poetics, we need to examine further the contextualist position. The contextualist position can be divided into the strong version and the weak version. The contextualist investigations as discussed in the preceding part of the essay all fall into the “weak” category. Significantly, the difference between the “weak” and the “strong” versions is not a matter of degree, but of kind. The strong-contextualist position grants the context all the determining power, while the weak version acknowledges the generic identity of the text itself. A vigorous recent attempt to assert the strong version is found in Michael Kearns’ Rhetorical Narratology, which takes speech-act theory as its theoretical ground. Kearns’ strong contextualist claims are one extreme of the contextualist side. But Kearns’ book is valuable and revealing precisely because Kearns’ practice does not fully conform to his theoretical claims. Through analyzing Kearns’ argument in detail, we can see the unavoidable conflict between the strong and the weak position, a conflict that the introduction of speech-act theory paradoxically helps reveal.

      According to Kearns, “the right context can cause almost any text to be taken as narrative and … there are no textual elements that guarantee such a reception” (2).7 He cites “an excellent example” from Petrey: “[t]he constitution is suspended” in a newspaper article compared to the same sentence in a government decree (Petrey 12) to illustrate the point that the same string of words can have entirely different effects across different contexts (Kearns 11). In one context, the words are performative, in the other, constative. But what we find in Petrey is a much more balanced position than that held by Kearns. Petrey concludes that “illocutionary force is a combination of language and social practice” (13). While Petrey pays attention to both language and social practice, Kearns only sees the power of context in determining the force of “any utterance” (11). Now, given a sentence “The constitution was enacted in 1980,” no matter whether it appears in a newspaper article or a government decree, it will not be performative, since it merely describes an event of the past in each case. Indeed, the performative power of “The constitution is [hereby] suspended” in the government decree rests both on the linguistic structure and the felicity conditions.

       Now, if “the right context can cause almost any text to be taken as narrative,” the distinction between narrative and non-narrative would in itself become meaningless since we will be left with only one category of texts in “the right context.” And if context can make “any text” or all texts just one category, all generic distinctions will become irrelevant, and the investigation of texts according to generic conventions will be out of place. As touched on above, the investigation of speech-act theorists is based on the distinction between different genres of discourse (e.g. a newspaper article vs. a government decree; a traditional novel vs. a new novel) or different situational contexts (e.g. a courtroom trial vs. a televising report). They take for granted the generic identity of a text, and proceed to investigate the generic conventions operating in the interpretive process, hence displaying the weak-contextualist position.

Kearns states, “Speech-act theory in fact provides the basis for my strong-contextualist position, hence for a truly ‘rhetorical’ narratology. This theory has been defined as nothing less than ‘an account of the conditions of intelligibility, of what it means to mean in a community, of the procedures which must be instituted before one can even be said to be understood’ (Fish 1024).” (Kearns 10) But precisely because speech-act theorists lay emphasis on “conditions of intelligibility,” they pay particular attention to a text’s own generic identity and the conventions of the genre to which the text belongs. Pratt, for instance, asserts, “What I do claim is that regardless of what form the fictional utterance actually takes in a novel, the fact that the text is a novel automatically entitles the reader to bring these rules to bear on the fictional speech act” (206). If, say, Robbe-Grillet’s Dans le labyrinthe is not interpreted as a new novel, but as a non-fictional daily narrative under the influence of an extratextual context, the book surely will not make sense. It should have become clear that, with the strong position that grants the context all determining power, the investigation cannot be truly rhetorical, since it allows texts to be interpreted with “mistaken” conventions and even go so far as to obliterate generic distinctions. Moreover, the investigation cannot be truly narratological, since it ignores the nature of the text itself, allowing, say, a non-narrative to be interpreted as narrative, or vice versa, under the influence of context.

      It is, however, significant to note that Kearns Rhetorical Narratology presents a remarkable synthesis of various approaches, extremely rich in references and comprehensive in coverage of the related fields. This open-minded incorporation and synthesis of various theories function to redress the one-sidedness of Kearns’ own theoretical model. For instance, Kearns’ incorporating Bleich’s view on gender and reading and Lanser’s view on narrating voice etc. takes him beyond the “situational context” into the sociohistorical context in his narratological criticism. Moreover, formal narrative poetics as a technical basis survives. Classical narratological models even dominate the two sections “Temporal Structure of Narrating” (140-52) and “Representing Speech” (152-61). Kearns makes the following comment on Genette’s taxonomy of narrative anachronies:

On the one hand, a narrative’s deviations from a strictly linear ordering of events are true to the human experience of time, and the different types of deviations (such as flashback and flash-forward, in ordinary terms) affect readers differently. On the other hand, this taxonomy says nothing about how important anachronies may be in a particular novel, how they may operate in the time-bound process of reading. To put the point in a practical light, students can be taught the scheme, just as they can be taught the main types of poetic feet. But they must also be led to understand that no “prolepsis” (Genette’s term for flash-forward) is important in itself, that the personal, textual, rhetorical, and cultural contexts have much to do with whatever value the element carries. (5, my emphasis)

From this observation, we can see clearly the difference between formal narrative poetics and contextual criticism. The former is concerned with the basic schemes of narrative fiction as a genre, while the latter explicates given works in the relevant “personal, textual, rhetorical, and cultural contexts.” From Kearns’ observation, it can also be inferred that different narrative devices, such as flashback and flash-forward, have both varied contextualized significance (when used in specific narratives) and shared generic functions, the latter being able to “affect readers differently” in a decontextualized way. The investigation of the effect of a narrative device in a specific narrative must take account of both kinds of meaning. Formal narrative poetics provides classifications of narrative devices and discusses their generic functions, thus offering tools helpful for answering the relevant questions about narrative in various kinds of context. Seen in this light, it is not surprising that despite Kearns’ theoretical exclusion of formal narrative poetics from a strong-contextualist position, classic narrative poetics constitutes the most important technical basis for his rhetorical investigation.

 

Conclusion

       It should have become clear that formal narrative poetics has been existing and developing within various kinds of contextual narratologies, where there can be found a triple mutually-benefiting relationship: (1) new decontextualized structural models are developed for contextual criticism; (2) the theoretical contributions may both depend upon and expand classical narrative poetics; (3) contextual criticisms draw on classical structural tools, which, in turn, helps classical narrative poetics to gain current relevance. Clearly, there is no real ground for the antagonism between formal narrative poetics and contextual narratologies (see, for instance, the debate between Diengott and Lanser in Style (1988)).

As an important technical basis for various kinds of contextulist narratological analyses, formal narrative poetics needs to be continuously and rigorously improved and developed. As indicated above, existing narrative poetics is not free from limitations, calling for continuous revision and enrichment (see also Shen “Narrative”; “Defense”; “Difference”), for the use of new tools (see for instance, Ryan Possible; “Cyberage”), and for further extension into new areas (see also Cuddy-Keane; Richardson “Beyond”). So long as existing structural models leave room for improvement, so long as the generic structures of existing narratives in various genres and media are not exhausted by description, and so long as new structures and techniques emerge in future narratives providing room for further narratological classification or description, formal narrative poetics can be “a mode of theorizing that is open, dynamic, neverending” (Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 48).

      Talking about the situation of narratology at the end of the last century, Mieke Bal depicts a rather deplorable picture: “Text-grammars have ceased to appear, formalist models are deemed irrelevant, and while some hold on to early structuralist distinctions, many of those who discussed the criteria by which to spot Free Indirect Discourse in 1979 moved on, and practise analysis rather than worrying about how to do it” (Narratology 13). Indeed, many narratologists have turned to narratological criticism, but as Bal puts it, “application may imply an unwarranted acceptance of imperfect theories” (ibid.). While in some countries, formal narrative poetics as a domain “continues to be practised and amplified by a relatively limited number of specialists” (Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 135), in North America at least, formal narrative poetics for the past 15 years or so has been reduced to a position of being survivable only under the “disguise” of part of contextualist or postclassical narratologies. This apparently has hindered its development. It should be stressed that to promote the development of formal narrative poetics—both within contextual narratologies and as another domain (as an increasing repertory of tools for contextual criticism)—is very significant for the development of contextual narratologies. It should also have become clear that asking contextual approaches to stay away from narratolgy (Diengott) is to shut the door to beneficial, invigorating forces and resources, indeed to the very “savior” of narratology at least with reference to North America. For the sake of the development of the field of narratology, it is high time to clarify the different relations the different kinds of narratological investigation bear to reader and context, to distinguish between generic function and contextualized significance, and to see the relation between contextual narratologies and formal narrative poetics not as one of mutual exclusion, but as one of mutual nourishment.

 

ENDNOTES

1.  David Darby’s essay and the debate it generated in Poetics Today 24.3 (2003) focus on the relation between the situation in Germany and that in North America.

2.     However, the “authorial voice” in modern times no longer enjoyed the same degree of its traditional authority, and in postmodern times, may even be found out of place, but it is still relatively more authoritative than the “personal voice” once it appears in narratives – unless it is parodied or used in some other ironic way.

3.   The situation is very different in China. The late 1970s and early 1980s saw a sudden rush into China of various schools of Western literary theory and criticism. Having been subjected to political criticism for decades, many Chinese scholars became particularly interested in text-oriented schools. Thus when the American academic world was trying to move away from the limitations of formalist criticism towards a better understanding of the connections between literature and society, history, and ideology, many scholars in China moved away from political criticism towards the study of form and aesthetics. Around 1980, extrinsic criticism was even temporarily excluded in China. But fortunately the situation soon became more tolerant and Chinese scholars became increasingly aware of the limitations of formalist or intrinsic criticism. Contextual narratologies and formal narrative poetics have been enjoying mutual development recently. If China around 1980 and North America since 1980s constitute two contrastive poles, other countries may fall somewhere in between.

4.       For further discussions on the different reading positions, see Booth; Rabinowitz 1987; Phelan 1989, 1996, 2005; Kearns; Herman 2002.

5.             Even in the case of “narrativization” (“a reading strategy that naturalizes texts by recourse to narrative schemata” (Fludernik, Towards 34)), textual features may still have a vital role to play. Monika Fludernik offers the following two examples of narrativization: Alain Robbe-Grillet’s La Jalousie has frequently been narrativized as the jealous husband’s observations of his wife through the window shutters; and the “very term of ‘camera-eye’ technique” “betrays another such narrativization which attempts to correlate the text with a frame from recognizable experience.” (Towards 46) Now, in La Jalousie, the text frequently suggests that the angle of vision comes from behind the window shutters (apparently, the author wrote in such a way as to invite readers to interpret the text as such). As for “camera-eye,” this metaphorical term was borrowed by Norman Friedman from the narrator’s opening statement in Isherwood’s Goodbye to Berlin, “I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking” (quoted in Friedman 1179). It is a term that is only applicable to texts whose “aim is to transmit, without apparent selection or arrangement, a ‘slice of life’ as it passes before the recording medium” (Friedman 1179), and not applicable to any other kind of texts.

6.             Kearns asserts that “narrativity, like fictionality, is a function of context” (35), as opposed to text. But I would argue that while fictionality often does not have to do with textual features, textual elements have a much more important role to play in determining narrativity (even in the former case, context alone cannot determine fictionality: a real telephone directory is a real telephone directory even though a given context leads the reader to treat it as fictional). As distinct from fictionality, narrativity, in general, should be conceived “as both textually exterior and interior” (Prince, “Remarks” 104). Now, given “two plus two equals four” or “San Franscisco is a beautiful city” or “trees must be preserved for environmental protection”, I’m sure no one will claim that any of those sentences can function as narrative in a proper context (see also note 5).     

 

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---. “The Look, the Body, and the Heroine of Persuasion.” Ambiguous Discourse. Ed. Kathy Mezei. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1996. 21-39.

---. “Neonarrative; or, How to Render the Unnarratable in Realist Fiction and Contemporary Film.” A Companion to Narrative Theory. Ed. James Phelan and Peter J. Rabinowitz. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 220-31.

 

  

   语境叙事学与形式叙事学缘何相互依存[*]


 

申丹/   杨莉/

      

尽管不同国家情形有异,不同学者的观察角度不一(Rimmon-Kenan 134-35),但近来许多有关叙事学发展的论述都持进化说:要么从结构主义叙事学进化到后结构主义叙事学(Currie; Onega and Landa),要么从经典叙事学到后经典叙事学(Herman “Introduction”),要么从结构主义叙事学到文化与历史叙事学(Nunning),要么从“严格的形式主义诗学”到“语境主义叙事学”(Darby 829) ,要么从形式研究到注重实效的、以性别为导向的、意识形态的“超越形式”的研究(Fludernik “Histories”),要么从传统叙事学到后现代叙事理论——在后者看来,“叙事学”这一术语本身都已过时(Currie 6)。尽管这些观点有所不同,有的甚至存在本质上的差别,但有一点是共同的,那就是:叙事学家应当考虑各式各样的语境。然而,如果我们将叙事理论和叙事批评分别作为考察对象——自20世纪80年代后期以来,它们往往在叙事研究中同时出现——情况便不一样了。就叙事批评而言,情况的确如此:受形式主义限制的、基于文本的研究,已演变为一种将语境和读者考虑在内的更有效、更细致的研究。可谈到叙事学的理论,情况就变得相当复杂了。后经典叙事学或语境叙事学以各种方式极大地丰富了叙事学理论(欲知对这方面新近的考察,请参看Fludernik “Histories”),但是,当研究涉及到文类的文本结构及其文类功能时,考虑各种具体的语境通常就没有什么空间或必要了。实际上,形式叙事诗学(其形态为新确立的脱离语境的结构模式)一直在语境叙事学中不断出现,而语境叙事学又在语境批评方面广泛地借鉴了经典叙事诗学。

1997年由多伦多大学出版社出版的《叙事学》一书的第2版中, 米克·巴尔(Mieke Bal)在再版序言中写道:“十年后,此书仍有再版的需求……对此书的需求表明,它依然在公共领域发挥着作用,对此我不能轻易否认。”(xiii) 本文将主要从理论有效性的角度,而非仅从公众需求的角度来解释,为什么人们对于形式叙事诗学“不能轻易否认”。然而,有一点需要说明,我不是为“形式主义”的有效性或“结构主义”的立场辩护。正如过去30年来很多理论家所论述的,脱离语境的、自足的文本概念其实是无效的,因此,在叙事阐释中考虑语境的必要性现在已得到大家的公认。在这里,我只是想试图说明:形式叙事诗学在重视语境特征的叙事学研究方法中一直起着重要作用,也就是说,本文加以辩护的正是语境叙事学或后经典叙事学的一个重要方面。

本文旨在揭示在过去的20年中,语境叙事学和形式叙事诗学之间是一种互为滋养、相互促进的关系。本文指出,在以“对诗学和批评的双重强调”为特征的语境主义研究的范围内外(Herman, “Introduction” 3),存在一种未被承认的三重对话关系:(1)新的形式理论和语境批评之间的互利关系;换句话说,语境主义学者开发出新的形式工具,这些工具使得各种新的语境化阐释更加顺理成章,正如这些阐释也使得这些工具更为锋利好使一样;(2)语境主义者对形式叙事诗学的新贡献与经典叙事诗学之间的互利关系,换句话说,这些理论贡献既依赖于经典叙事诗学又拓展了经典叙事诗学;(3)经典叙事诗学与语境化叙事批评之间的互利关系,前者为后者提供了技术工具,后者反过来又有助于前者成为当下的有用之物。

 

一、  什么是语境/后经典叙事学?

 

      20世纪60年代初到70年代,“叙事学”这一术语有明确的指涉:对(文字、虚构的)叙事之结构的系统描述,旨在创建一种普遍适用的叙事语法及小说诗学。但自20世纪90年代以来,“叙事学”这一术语的指涉范围扩大了,它包括用叙事学的工具进行叙事批评。正如凯西·梅齐(Kathy Mezei)所言:“到1989年,女性主义叙事学进入了又一个重要的阶段,此时出现了理论向实践的转型。”(8)理论的实践化转型不仅在女性主义叙事学中颇为明显,而且在其它的后经典叙事学中也有不同程度的反映。这一转型背后的原因是显而易见的:因为当时整个学术氛围有一种越来越强调读者和语境的趋势,而且正如下文要充分展示的,对文类结构的研究与这一趋势很不合拍,所以许多学者自然地转向了阐释或批评,因为这一领域能很好地包容上述趋势。大部分后经典著作要么以对单个作品的叙事学分析出现,要么以“诗学和批评”的综合形式出现。

       把“叙事学”这一术语扩大至包含叙事学批评,本文表示赞同或支持,但本文并不赞成将这一术语延伸至既不涉及叙事学理论又不参与叙事学实践的叙事研究。例证之一便是萨莉·鲁滨逊的《当代女性小说中的性别与自我表现》,此书被梅齐视为女性主义叙事学的代表作(“Introduction” 9-10)。鲁滨逊的研究是一种激进的女性主义阅读理论,“探讨性别是如何通过叙述过程而产生的,而非先于这一过程”(198, no.23)。鲁滨逊非但没有对叙事学加以吸收,还将自己的研究与罗彬·沃霍尔(Robyn Warhol和苏珊·S·兰瑟Susan S. Lanser)的研究区分开来,从而明确将叙事学排除在外(ibid.)。女性主义理论/批评与女性主义叙事学的区别是双向的,正如下文将要谈到的,沃霍尔(Gendered和兰瑟(“Towards”, Fictions)都将后者与前者做出了区分。两种方法从不同角度揭示了性别政治(请参看 Shen “The Future”),两者都颇具价值且不可或缺,但了解它们之间的差异还是必要而又有益的。

       另一个例证是马克·柯里(Mark Currie)的“后结构主义叙事学”。柯里对库恩(Kuhn)将解构主义视为对结构主义的线性取代提出了挑战,他认为,将解构主义这个20世纪80年代以来的新批评方法视作被叙事学激活或充实的方法可能会更现实些(9-10)。顺着这一思路,解构主义被当作是叙事学的一种新形式,也就是,“后结构主义叙事学”,于是,叙事学的发展就成了“从演绎科学到对语言知识的归纳性解构”的演变(46-47)。但把解构主义本身视为叙事学的新发展则忽略了二者之间的根本差异:叙事学有赖于叙事规约并在后者的范围内运作,而解构主义则旨在彻底推翻叙事规约。

      就哲学立场而言,一般认为索绪尔(Saussure)在《普通语言学教程》中对语言的关系性质的强调给了德里达(Derrida)的解构理论大力的支持。但事实上,在《普通语言学教程》中,表面上存在着两股相互对抗的力量。其中一股特别看重能指和所指的关系,将语言定义为 “一个符号体系,其中唯一本质的东西便是意义和声音-意象的结合,而且符号的这两个部分都是心理层面的”(Saussure 15)。另一股力量只是把语言视为一个由“差异”构成的体系,“更重要的是:差异通常意味着存在实在的词语,在这些词语之间产生差异,但语言中只存在差异,不存在实在的词语。” Saussure 120)。的确,西方语言通常由完全任意的符号构成,因此不存在实在的词语。但我们必须意识到,差异本身并不能产生含义。在英语里,“sun(/sΛn/)之所以能作为一个符号发挥功能,不仅仅是因为它与其它符号在声音或“声音-意象”上的差异,而且还出于声音-意象“sun”与所指概念之间约定俗成的关联。比如说,尽管以下的声音-意象“lun”(/lΛn/)“sul” (/sΛl/) “qun” (/kwΛn/) 中的每一个都能与其它两个区分开来,但没有一个能作为符号发挥功能,这是因为缺乏常规的“意义和声音-意象之间的关联”。在《立场》(Positions)及其它著述中对索绪尔的语言理论进行评价时,雅克·德里达仅仅注意到索绪尔在《普通语言学教程》中对语言作为能指差异体系的强调,而忽略了索绪尔对能指和所指之间关系的强调。众所周知,索绪尔在《普通语言学教程》中区分了语言形成过程中的三种任意关系:(1)能指差异的任意体系;(2)所指差异的任意体系(语言将意义分割为单个所指的方式是任意的,而且不同语言之间也存在差别);(3)特定能指和所指之间的常规关联。因为德里达忽略了(3),所以,(1)、(2)之间就失去了联系,理由很简单:(3)是联系(1)、(2)之间唯一且必不可少的纽带。没有(3),语言就成了能指自身的一种游戏,它无法与任何所指发生联系,意义自然也就变得无法确定。现在,进一步考察结构主义叙事学和解构主义的哲学立场已超出了本文研究的范畴,我们只需说明二者对语言的指代功能和叙事规约持相反的意见,因此不应被当作发展中的两个承继阶段。

       然而,这并不意味着后结构主义对叙事学家没有影响。在后结构主义的积极影响下,叙事学家大多变得更为现实并修正了自己最初所持的客观、确定或结论性的论调。他们承认,任何叙事学模式都只是一种“探索性的工具”(Bal, Narratology xiii),“一种由相互依赖的概念和术语构成的符号体系”(Kafalenos 41),或“一种概念上的框架,一套具有解释能力的假定”(Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 140)。而且,在解构主义的正面影响下,一些叙事学家把注意力转向了文学中的各种不确定状态或不可判定性,例如,里蒙-凯南(Rimmon-Kenan 就对一类20世纪实验小说中“有关叙述者的身份和相对于所述事件的结构位置的不可判定性”进行了考察(A Glance 3-4)。但正如“结构”这一术语本身所显示的,里蒙·凯南承认“叙述层次的安排”或“讲述故事的具体策略”的存在(P3),这与斯坦利·费什(Staney Fish)的后结构主义观点——“形式模式本身就是解释的产物”形成了鲜明的反差(Is There 267; 至于有关回应,请参看 Shen “Stylistics”)

       就马克·柯里的论述而言,从结构主义叙事学进化到后结构主义叙事学的故事,有一个明显的后果,即将真正的“叙事学”从新近的学术舞台上驱逐出去:“总之,后结构主义者不再把叙事(以及通常的语言体系)视为建筑,视为世上稳固、可靠的客体,而趋向于认为叙事是几乎可以用无数方法来解释的叙事学的创造物”(Currie 3) 。在这里,我们所听到的实际上是一个用后结构主义来颠覆或取代叙事学的故事。可事实上,叙事学依然存在,并和后结构主义一道发展着。叙事学的存活之所以成为可能,主要是各种语境或后经典叙事学的出现。需要强调的是,除非语境或后经典叙事研究提出了“叙事学的问题”或者使用了“叙事学的方法和分析工具”,否则就不应把它看作是 “叙事学的”(Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 144)。只有这样,我们才能看清语境或后经典叙事学和形式叙事诗学是如何互利互惠的。

 

二、女性主义叙事学

 

       女性主义叙事学在继承和丰富形式叙事诗学方面扮演了先锋的重要角色。20世纪80年代,女性主义叙事学在北美出现,其时结构主义叙事学由于后结构主义和社会历史/ 政治方法的合力而大受排斥。在这种情形下,苏珊·S·兰瑟罗彬·沃霍尔,女性主义叙事学的两位创始人和领军人物,通过三种途径来拯救形式叙事诗学:(1)为其有效性及实用性辩护;(2)丰富形式叙事诗学;(3)将经典叙事学工具用于社会历史语境中的叙事批评。

() 理论的辩护

      “无论是英美还是欧洲大陆,没有什么当代理论像形式主义-结构主义叙事学那样对女性主义批评几乎没有一点影响或是被草率地拒之门外,”面对这一情形,兰瑟对“女性主义与叙事学的相容性”进行了探索(“Toward” 611)并且认为:“即使是修正过的叙事学,其必然的符号学天性也有助于平衡女性主义批评对于模仿的关注。叙事学所特有的涵盖面广且十分精心的结构区分,能够为文本分析提供极有价值的方法。” (ibid. 614)

      另一位为叙事学辩护的是罗彬·沃霍尔,她在自己的《性别化的干预》(Gendered Interventions一书中断言,叙事学“能为女性审美批评所不能为,例如,确切地描述小说的话语规约是什么,它们是如何运作的”(P13)。也就是说,“叙事学”有助于描述“男性和女性文本在结构上可能出现的差异”,这“将是性别化话语诗学形成的第一步” (P15)

意味深长的是,来自兰瑟沃霍尔为叙事学辩护的文字都省略了“结构主义”这一形容词。这是对叙事学——作为文类文本结构的形式研究(形式叙事诗学)——的辩护,而不是为“结构主义”的哲学立场辩护。这也是本文的辩护立场。

()理论的传承与丰富

      在为(结构主义)叙事学辩护的同时,女性主义叙事学作为一种语境主义的方法,对纯形式叙事学研究的批判却毫不含糊。其批判集中在两个相关的问题上:(1)无视性别;(2)脱离语境。在《叙述行为》(The Narrative Act)这一试图“打造女性主义诗学观”的研究中(Lanser, “Towards” 611)兰瑟批评结构主义叙事学“坚持一套所谓不涉及价值观的研究方法,而且最严重的是,将文本与文学之外的语境及其意识形态基础相隔离”(P39)沃霍尔也持类似的语境主义立场,她曾说过,

[热奈特(Genette]从未暗示过在叙述结构间有可能存在任何基于性别的差异或模式。杰拉尔德·普林斯(Gerald Prince)和米克·巴尔在他们更具普泛性的叙事学论述中,都没有提到作为他们所描述模式之影响因子的性别。这并非性别偏见所造成的疏忽:不仅是性别,所有语境的变量都被排除在经典叙事学领域之外。作为结构主义的支持者,叙事学的首批实践者把文本从相应的语境中分离出来,以便从中提炼出所有叙事都具有的基本的结构(Gendered 4)

沃霍尔非常欣赏米克·巴尔将“其研究的重点”从脱离语境的经典叙事学转移到“符号学,由此她可以在产生文本符号和结构的文化语境中来研究反复出现的文本符号和结构” (ibid.)。但仔细看看兰瑟沃霍尔所提出的理论区分就会发现,文类结构的研究就其本质而言,是无法考虑具体的社会历史语境的,这一点与叙事学批评形成了鲜明的反差。首先,让我们把注意力转向兰瑟所提出的两种结构区分:(1)公众叙述与私人叙述之间的区分;(2)作者的、群体的与个人的声音之间的区分。关于前者,兰瑟写道:“我所说的公众叙述,意思就是对一个文本世界之外的(即异质的)、能够等同于公众读者的叙述对象所展开的(含蓄的或明确的)叙述。与之相比,私人叙述则面向一个明确指定的,仅存在于文本世界之内的叙述对象”(“Towards” 620)。无疑,兰瑟的区分很大程度上是脱离语境的,而且是无视性别的。事实上,就这样的结构分类本身而言,各种具体语境都是不相关的。正如兰瑟所指出的,“叙事学最大的好处在于,它为研究各种作品提供了一种相对独立的(前文本的)框架”(“Towards” 611)。而研究(作为交际行为的)的作品则需要考虑文本创作和接受的各种不同的语境。建构相对独立或前文本的框架必然要求把文本(作为结构的例证)“从相应的语境中分离出来,以便从中提炼出”有关的“基本的结构”。至于不同“声音”之间的区分(Lanser, Fictions 16-21),虽然就抽象结构形式而言,只有一种“个人的声音”和一种“作者的声音”,且两者具有“不同程度的常规权威性” (Lanser, The Narrative 137),但在不同作品中选择采用某种叙述模式的原因则可能会随不同的语境而变化。兰瑟敏锐且富启示性的考察,很好地揭示了脱离语境的结构特征与语境中的性别差异之间的相互作用,是如何决定社会历史语境中叙述模式的选择的。

值得注意的是,兰瑟的叙事理论研究不仅有助于继承而且大大丰富了形式叙事诗学。其最可贵的贡献,体现在兰瑟对“群体的声音”的区分中,它是“一类发展中的,在当代叙事学中还未命名的可能性” (Lanser, Fictions 21) 兰瑟所谓“群体的声音”,意思是“叙述权威被置于一个可界定的群体中,在文中要么通过多种相互认同的声音,要么通过被群体明确认可的单个人的声音来体现”(ibid.)兰瑟区分了三种“群体的声音”:“单数的形式,即一个叙述者为集体代言;共时的形式,即复数的我们’作为叙述者以及连续的形式,即一个群体中的单个成员依次进行叙述 (ibid.)。“群体的声音”以前之所以遭到忽视,大概是因为“与作者或个人的声音不同,群体的模式似乎首先是一种边缘化的或受压抑的群体现象”(Lanser, Fictions 19)兰瑟通过她对女性文本的研究发现了这一模式。一方面,若要探讨女性作家如何使用这一模式,无疑要进行语境化的分析;另一方面,这一模式的理论分类及其不同形式的区分(单数的、共时的和连续的),还要求把文本从各种具体的语境中分离出来,“以便从中提炼出基本的结构特征。因此,虽然作者声音的模式经常为男性所使用,而群体声音的模式通常更多地为社会历史语境中的女性所使用,但是,兰瑟的理论区分本身并未反映这种由性别或文化所决定的差异。诚然,兰瑟提到了“叙述权威”,但如此抽象的理论区分所涉及的只是“明确的常规权威模式”。由于这些结构差异未涉及性别,也脱离了语境,这就为男性文本中“群体的声音”的研究留出了空间——至少在有色和/或工人阶级男性的文本中,或许可以发现这种声音。即使男性作家——无论什么阶级或肤色——过去还没有使用过这一模式,未来某些男作家也可能会因种种原因而用到它。应当强调的是,正如“作者的”或“个人的”声音一样,我们辨认“群体的声音”或其“单数的”、“共时的”和“连续的”形式,不是依据作者的性别,也不是依据任何特定的社会历史语境,而是依据相关的“基本”结构特性。

      兰瑟对这一模式的发现,表明了在更加全面的叙事诗学的建构中研究女性文本的重要性。鉴于这一模式的使用在女性文本中如果不说更加广泛也是更加频繁这一事实,对女性文本缺乏足够的重视很容易导致对这一模式的忽略。尽管多数叙事结构和技巧都为男性文本和女性文本所共享,社会历史语境中的女性作家或许对某些技巧使用得更为频繁,而且或许会创造出某些男性文本中所没有的情节类型(Lanser “Towards”; Page)。因此,对女性叙述的研究也许不仅仅会发现某些被忽略的叙述模式,还有可能发现一些新的情节类型。

但应当强调的是,就文类结构的分类而言,单个的叙事只是形式上的证明。为了区分结局式和呈现式情节,西摩·查特曼(Seymour Chatman)只选择了两种女性文本来加以说明:简·奥斯汀的《傲慢与偏见》的结局式情节和弗吉尼亚·吴尔夫的《达洛维夫人》的呈现式情节(Story 47-8)。但这样的女性文本选择,并没有使得查特曼的分类比以前的模式更为女性化。理论上的区分纯粹是形式上的,而且两种女性文本也只是“基本的”结构特性的证明罢了,它们与同类的男性文本起着同样的说明的作用。为了构建更加全面的叙事诗学,我们不应当忽略任何类型的作品——无论是男性或女性,白人或有色人种,上层阶级或工人阶级作家的作品。在更广泛的层面上,“普通叙事学”已经而且能够通过将其研究范围扩展到新的领域和新的媒体而得到不断的充实(请参看 Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 137-47; Sternberg 300; Chatman Coming; Prince, “On Narratology” 79, Phelan & Rabinowitz)

       现在,让我们把注意力转向罗彬·沃霍尔对“疏远型”与“吸引型”叙述者的区分。在《性别化的干预》中,沃霍尔写道:

若叙述者提供如此之多的关于受述者的信息,使受话者变得像普林斯所说的那样“与人物一样清晰”,那就必然会在真实的读者和文本中叙述者称呼的“你”之间设置一定的距离(Introduction 18)。这样的叙述者可称为疏远型。但不是每一个介入到与受述者交流中的叙述者,都会如此这般地将真实的读者与文中描述的“你”区分开来。另一种类型,我称之为吸引型,则竭力拉近受述者、受话者和接受者之间的关系……(29, my emphasis)

不难看出,这一区分又像经典叙事学的区分一样未考虑性别和语境。沃霍尔表明她“不认为吸引型策略是女性文本所特有的,也不认为疏远型策略只在男性文本中出现” (P17)。尽管理论区分是脱离性别和语境的,可对这些叙事策略的实际选择和使用却与性别差异相关,且由社会历史语境所决定。沃霍尔发现,在19世纪中期,“疏远型”策略在男性作家的小说中占主导地位,“吸引型”策略则在女性作家的小说中占主导地位(P17),这一偏好与社会历史语境中男性和女性使用现实主义小说话语的不同目的有关(P18)

      沃霍尔的研究中,不仅可以明显看出脱离语境的“术语区分”和语境批评之间的分界线,还可以看到脱离语境的文类修辞效果和具体阐释语境之间的分界线。在表明了斯托夫人《汤姆叔叔的小屋》中的吸引型策略为何未能吸引一位批评家之后,沃霍尔评述道:

像这样的叙述者的手段与读者的反应之间的差异,证明了以下观点:叙述策略是文本的修辞特征,技巧的选择标志着小说家对其故事可能发挥的情感力量的明显期待。策略也可能不奏效,它们无法提供任何保障。读者的反应你无法强迫、预测或者证明。……术语“疏远型”(distancing)与“吸引型”(engaging)的分词形式无意暗示文本或叙述者可以对读者采取的行动,而是为了识别这些策略所代表的修辞步骤(Gendered 25-26)

虽然女性主义批评家倾向于强调女性主义的阅读立场(Fetterley, Schweickart, Robinson),作为一名女性主义叙事学家的罗彬·沃霍尔却注重叙事策略及其文类修辞效果。兰瑟也持同样的观点,她关注的是一种叙事技巧借助于它的“读者操纵潜能”所“能产生”的效果(The Narrative 28-9)。读者对一种叙事技巧的文类功能的认同,在很大程度上依赖于脱离语境的文学或叙事能力(Culler 113-30; Prince, Dictionary 65)。如果现实中的读者抓不住叙事技巧的文类效果,就会被小说家视为对修辞手段的误解;小说家也会认为,这是自己技巧运用的失败。

 

      然而,叙事技巧的文类效果一定程度上所依赖的叙事规约并非一成不变。众所周知,叙事技巧是在社会历史语境中产生并使用的。例如,现代小说中经常出现的变动的内部聚焦取代了“全知”就与一战后出现的更具怀疑性和个性化的社会历史语境有关。如果这样的技巧用于中世纪背景下的文学作品,就很有可能显得不合时宜,因为那时的叙事规约(与人们的世界观相关)与现在的有很大的差异(请对比 Chatman, Coming 198-99)。可一旦一种叙事技巧出现了,它的文类效果和相应的叙事规约通常在很长一段时间内会保持相对的稳定,因为二者都与这一技巧“基本的”结构特性相联系。无疑,与沃霍尔的双重区分相关的“疏远型”与“吸引型”效果或与兰瑟的三重区分相关的不同程度的权威性几乎没有太大的变化,而且在可以预见的未来也会保持相对的稳定性。

() 作为一种形式类型的性别

有趣的是,苏珊·兰瑟对女性文本的研究导致她将“性别”作为一种叙事学类别而加以形式化和去语境化。在《使叙事性别化》(Sexing the Narrative)中,兰瑟写道:

《身体写作》使我意识到,只要我们把性别的缺席当作一个叙事学的变量,那么,性别即便不是叙事的常量,也是一个普遍因子。这就使得我们可以对任一叙事做些非常简单的、形式上的观察:叙述者的性别有无标识,如果有标识,是男性的还是女性的,亦或是在两者间的迁移……虽然叙述者的性别在异故事(hetetodiegetic)文本中通常没有标识,但性别是多数同故事(homodiegetic),而且事实上是所有的长篇自身故事(autodiegetic)叙事的一个明确的要素……大家不妨根据异故事和同故事叙事是否存在性别的标识,根据性别的不同标示方式——究竟是明确标示还是通过一些规约因素来隐蔽标示(暗示但不验证)性别,来对异故事和同故事叙事进行分类(87)

无疑,这一对“性别”的理论区分就像经典的结构区分一样形式化和脱离语境。在叙述者的性别没有标识或只有隐蔽标识的情况下,读者对叙述者性别的推断随个体或语境的不同而存在差异,但“有标识”和“无标识”或“隐蔽”和“公开”的理论区分,必须是抽象的、脱离语境的。这一情况对我要阐述的观点给予了有力的支持:文类结构的划分本质上与语境化对立,或者本质上不需要对社会历史语境进行考虑。与此类似,我们也可以把叙述者的种族、阶级、宗教、民族、教育、婚姻状况或性别偏好形式化,所有这一切都可以是“有标识的”或“无标识的”,而且如果“有标识”,在文本中也可以是“隐蔽”或“公开”的。一旦试图将这些非结构要素加以理论化,使之成为“叙事学”的类别,就必须把文本从相应的语境中分离出来,并从中提炼出相关的特性。也就是说,除非将这样的非结构要素转换成脱离语境的形式要素,否则它们就无法进入叙事学的理论领域。语境主义叙事学家“认为有必要对真实作者和读者的意图、动机、兴趣和社会环境进行探究。他们相信,如果不能进行此类探究,叙事学注定会把叙事当作是一个‘超然的,脱离语境的实体’ (Chatman, “What” 314)。但就文类结构研究而言,脱离语境本身并没有错,因为这是进行文类结构考察唯一可能的途径——“性别”也不例外。

()叙事学批评的改造

       由于形式主义的局限,早期的结构主义者在叙事学批评中使文本脱离了其生产及阐释的语境。所幸的是,这一缺陷为语境主义叙事学所矫正,其中女性主义叙事学充当了先锋的作用。没有这一及时的改造,叙事学批评至少在北美是无法存在下去的。通过将叙事学观点与历史和意识形态问题结合起来,语境主义叙事学家用自己的实践“反驳了叙事学的形式主义使之无法关注社会问题这一观点”(Bal, “The Point” 750)。正如许多杰出的女性主义叙事学分析所证明了的(请参看Bal Death; Warhol Gendered and “The Look”; Lanser Fictions; Mezei Ambiguous; Case Plotting and “Gender”),这样的分析越准确,就越有助于确定分析对象在历史上的地位 (Bal, “The Point” 750)

      在提出诸如上面所提到的新的结构区分的同时(也请参看Warhol “Neonarrative”),女性主义叙事学家一直对经典叙事诗学进行着广泛的借鉴。如果说,1989年在女性主义叙事学领域“经历了理论向实践的转型”,那么,实践中所使用的叙事学工具大部分都还是经典的。这些工具的使用一方面证实了经典区分的有效性和实用性,另一方面也有助于经典模式获得当下的相关性。20029月,劳特利奇出版社(Routledge 出版了里蒙·凯南的《叙事虚构作品:当代诗学》( Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics )的第二版,此书自1983年面世以来重印了八次;2005年,《劳特利奇叙事理论百科全书》(The Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory出版,它对“结构主义模式的涵盖非常广泛” (Herman et al. x),这就暗示了形式叙事诗学的有效性及当下的相关性。语境主义叙事学对形式叙事诗学所做的一个重要贡献就是,他们证实了脱离语境和不考虑性别的前文本结构框架在语境化批评中是非常有用的。

      总之,女性主义叙事学家借鉴了形式叙事诗学,并对其做出了自己的新贡献。她们的研究就像其它各种语境研究,实际上在形式叙事诗学和语境化批评之间形成了一种本文开头部分最后一段所提到的三重对话关系。

 

三、认知叙事学

 

      在过去的十余年中,如同语言学和文体学之类的其它领域一样,在叙事学领域出现了一次明显的认知转向,由此产生了一种日益繁荣的语境方法“认知叙事学”。与重视社会历史语境中真实作者的女性主义叙事学不同,认知叙事学关注的是接受过程中读者的心理模式(请参看Herman Narrative)。为阐明认知叙事学的本质及其不同的分支,让我们首先把注意力转向各种不同语境和不同读者之间的差异。

()占主导地位的“文类语境”和“文类读者”

      语境主要可分为两种:一种是文类的或惯常的,另一种是具体的或社会历史的。关于前者,我们可以简要地浏览一下言语行为理论。言语行为理论往往关注常规情景语境中的言语行为,例如教室、教堂、法庭审判、交谈、设法找到加油站、报纸文章、长篇故事、先锋小说等等,其中说话人与受话人都是老套的社会角色(教师、学生、司机、牧师、法官等)。这样的语境都或明或暗地被视为与性别和历史无关。正如玛丽·路易丝·普拉特Mary Louise Pratt)的《建构文学话语的言语行为理论》(Towards a Speech Act Theory of Literary Discourse所阐明的,在讨论(各种)文学话语的文类结构、文类功能和文类规约时,只关注文类情景语境(如文学言语情景)就足够了。但在阐释特定作品时,就需要考虑生产和接受的具体社会历史语境了。

      就叙事而言,两种不同的语境中有两种不同的读者:一种我称之为“文类读者”,也就是具有“叙事能力”并且在叙事理解中共享同样的叙事规约的读者,而这些规约由常规假想、期待、结构、草案、计划、图式或心理模式来体现。另一种可称为“特定叙事的读者”,包含由彼得·J·拉宾诺维茨(Peter J. Rabinowitz )在《虚构中的真实》(Truth in Fiction)中首次划分的四种阅读立场:有血有肉的读者(这一阅读立场涉及读者的特性和社会身份)、作者的读者(与隐含作者相对应的阅读立场,能意识到作品的虚构性),叙事读者(把虚构世界当作真实世界的那部分阅读意识)以及理想的叙事读者(“叙述者希望自己为之写作的”阅读立场)(P134) 。我所谓的“文类读者”显然不包括不同语境中“有血有肉的读者”,且在着重点或焦点上也有别于特定叙事作品的“作者的读者”和“叙事读者”。

       为了把握全貌,让我们来进一步区分以下三种类型的阐释研究对象:

1)把(一类)叙事作为一种文类来阐释,或者把某些结构特征作为文类特征来阐释。

2)阐释特定叙事作品的主题意义(或与主题意义相关的文本特征的功能和效果)。研究这种阐释时,需要考虑作品生产和阐释的语境,包括有血有肉的个体的不同反应。

3)现实世界中人们将真实事件作为“叙事”来理解。在研究这种理解时,要么聚焦于共享的规约(即聚焦于作为一类人的代表的个体的理解),要么聚焦于不同个体的阐释特性——这取决于该研究是旨在揭示普遍的认知特征还是不同个体的不同视角。

      注意到这一点非常重要:认知叙事学一般着力于研究第一类阐释,它只涉及叙事接受的“文类读者”和“文类语境”,而把各种社会历史语境搁到一边。即使这种研究以心理实验为基础,认知叙事学也趋向于从各种接受过程中揭示共享的叙事理解模式或机制( 请参看Ryan, “Cognitive”)

()继承和丰富形式叙事诗学

       虽然认知叙事学研究在理论传承、操作方法、范围、焦点、所采用的例证或分析工具上各不相同,但是他们通常具有以下共同特征。在考察叙事理解中阐释策略的功用时,分析者们承认并极为关注文本结构的作用,因为在他们看来,叙事理解主要是故事世界的(重新)建构过程,这一过程产生在文本暗示及其可能导致的推论的基础上 (Herman, Story 6)也就是说,认知叙事学可以描述为,“与叙事文本特征和结构相符合的心理过程的研究” (Bortolussi & Dixon 24)。正是因为“文本特征和结构”的重要性,有助于更好地理解这种重要性的形式叙事诗学与关注读者接受的认知方法才形成了互补的关系。而后者通过揭示各种“有趣的认知机制”,又对前者进行了补充(Jahn 168)。尽管在认知方面取得了长足进展,其叙事学观点仍保持不变:认知叙事学所建立的说明“文本特征和结构”的模式,通常与经典结构模式一样具有形式的和脱离语境的特点,因此,它实际上对形式叙事诗学起到了继承和发展的作用。

        我将从戴维·赫尔曼(David Herman)的《故事逻辑》(Story Logic)开始展开探讨,此书把“叙事作为在大脑中再现世界的一种策略”进行了再思考(P5),它在强调形式描述的语境化的同时,很好地证明了脱离语境的叙事学理论与语境化的叙事学批评之间的互补关系。这种互补关系在题为“语境化定位”的第9章中特别明显。“语境化定位”指的是“一个过程,叙事话语的暗示经由此过程促使接受者在他们所阐释的故事和阐释语境之间建立一种直接或间接的关系”(P8)。这一章把埃德娜·奥布莱恩(Edna O’Brien 1970年的小说《异教徒之域》(A Pagan Place作为第二人称叙述的一个个案,把第二人称“你”作为人称指代的一个特例。赫尔曼认为:“至少,在一些案例中,叙述性的‘你不仅仅或主要指代故事世界中的参与者,而且还(或主要)面向叙事的阐释者说话。并且,有时在某种单一的叙述场合,‘你’既有指代的功能又有说话的功能,结果便是断断续续地、自觉地将文本在其语境中定位。”(P332)尽管特定叙事中实际出现的叙述性的“你”是在语境中定位的,可一旦要对理论框架中各种不同类型的“你”做出区分,除了把文本从相应的语境中分离出来以提炼出有关的结构特性之外,认知叙事学家就别无选择了。赫尔曼对第二人称小说中的“你”提出了一种包含五种类型的全面划分:(1)一般化的“你” (2)虚构的指涉;(3) 小说化的( = 水平的)称呼;(4) 呼语性(apostropic ( = 垂直的)称呼,(5)双重指示的“你” (P345)。“基本的”结构特征是各种不同类型的唯一决定因素。例如,第一、二类的“特征是语法形式的‘你’与其指示功能的分离” (P340)。第一类是非个人的、一般化的、“假指示的”或“非指示的” (ibid.)。与之相对照,第二类通过马戈林(Margolin)所说的“指示式迁移”来指代叙述者-主人公。在这一区分中,赫尔曼引自《异教徒之域》的各种例子只是作为结构的例证,与341页的假设性例证扮演着同样的说明的角色(“当你激动时,你会感觉热——”)。

      在赫尔曼的分类中,每一种类型的“你”都有其文类功能,不同语境中同一类型的“你”都会有同样的文类功能,因此,要把文类功能与语境化的意义区分开来。此外,把一般化的“你”搁在一边,这一类型在各种叙述中都能见到,在某种程度上,其它类型“你”的文类功能是建立在(某些类型的)第二人称叙述的文类功能基础之上的。正因为赫尔曼对各种不同类型“你”的分类基于文类文本特征,而不受不同读者和不同语境的影响,这种分类产生了有价值的“第二人称小说诗学的新工具”(Herman, Story 337)

       就像一般的认知叙事学研究,赫尔曼的研究聚焦于上面所划分的第一种类型的阐释:把(一类)叙事作为一种文类来阐释,或者把某些结构特征作为文类特征来阐释。就这一类型而言,聚焦于读者接受的方法能够看到文本暗示、文类规约和文类阐释策略(心理模式、结构、草案、图式等)之间的相互作用——它们之间是相互关联或相互依赖的。文本暗示是作者基于文类规约并考虑相关阅读策略,以某种方式从事文本写作的结果。文类规约的产生是文类文本特征(由作者创造,其写作有助于产生一种新的文类或拓展一种现有的文类)和文类阐释策略(读者所采用的,也是作者所期待的)共同作用的结果。而且,文类阐释策略是基于文类文本特征和文类规约的基础之上的。

      主要由于其描述上述相互作用的能力,认知叙事学近年来被视为一种优于基于文本的形式叙事诗学的研究,受到广泛欢迎。在《心理叙事学》(Psychonarratology)中,玛丽莎·博托卢西Marisa Bortolussi)和彼得·狄克逊(Peter Dixon)对各种研究读者接受的方法做出了全面的总结,其结论是:“在这些方法中,这种对叙事接受者的强调可以被视为揭示并超越纯形式主义模式局限的范式迁移的结果。”(P2)。此外,博托卢西和狄克逊还对其他以读者为中心的学者提出了批评,因为他们未能推行实验性质的方法:“一般说来,为了阐述有可能归结于读者的问题,叙事学家和读者反应理论家在几乎没有客观证据的情况下,就对读者的知识和推论做出了假定的描述……结果导致一种循环式的逻辑:文本特征为各种叙事认知能力提供了证据,某种能力的存在又为文本的某些特征提供了证据。”(P168)他们所倡导的就是研究“实际的、真实的读者,并且把对阅读过程的分析建立在读者处理叙事形式的实验证据的基础上”(P168-69)。有趣但并不奇怪的是,尽管在理论上排斥基于文本的方法和以“文类读者”为中心的方法,但在博托卢西和狄克逊本人的三步考察中两种方法都用上了:“首先我们为理解相关的文本特征提供一个框架;接下来,我们再讨论有关读者建构的一些假想;最后,我们提供支持假想的有关实验证据。每一步都是依次展开的。”(P184-185)

      形式叙事诗学只关心文类文本结构(及其文类功能),因而无法处理真实读者在各种语境中的反应;与此类似,用做实验的方法来考察不同读者的反应也难以建构出文类文本结构的模式(当然,人们可以揭示叙事接受的共同机制)。往往是因为看不清这种工作分工,才导致了对形式叙事诗学的批评。尽管博托卢西和狄克逊批评热拉尔·热奈特(Gérard Genette)在聚焦问题的理论探讨上没有考虑“读者的类型、文本的性质和实际阅读语境”(Bortolussi and Dixon 177-78),但他们自己对聚焦问题的理论探讨也没有考虑读者和语境——这也在意料之中。他们的“心理叙事学方法”,“从叙事学和语言学相关的知识中”综合了三种类型作为聚焦问题的理论框架:1)描述性参考系;(2)位置的约束;(3)知觉标志 (P186-189)。第一类又进一步分为“相对的参考系”(例如,“有时一只狗会在远处狂吠”,这里有关于潜在的感知者所处位置的知觉信息)以及“外部参考系”(例如,“灯在高高的灯杆顶上发出光亮”,这里的参考系是“由故事世界中的轴所决定的,它与任何潜在的感知者无关”)。第二类“位置的约束”是文本“对可能感知到信息的行为者位置的约束”,而第三类“知觉标志”则由“暗示知觉者”的文本暗示所构成。无论对先前的模式做出了什么修正,博托卢西和狄克逊对文本特征的分类同经典叙事诗学一样是脱离语境的。至关重要的是,须保持“文本的客观特征”与“潜在可变的读者建构”之间的界线(Bortolussi and Dixon 198),这一界线在博托卢西和狄克逊本人的三步考察中是相当清晰的:“探讨了与知觉信息相关的文本特征的几种类型之后,应当考虑的重要问题就是读者是如何处理此类暗示的。……至于如何处理有关知觉的明显描述,我们在这里提出几种与读者可能建构的心理再现模式相关的看法。随后,我们将提供一些相关的实验支撑材料(P191, my emphasis)

       三步考察很好地证明了三种研究的各自有效性及其相互之间的互利性:(1)对文类文本结构的脱离语境的研究;(2)对假定的文类读者之叙事理解的研究;(3)对真实读者认知过程的心理实验研究。第一种脱离语境的方法,提供了“稳定的着陆”或“理论的根基”(Phelan and Rabinowitz 1),为后两者铺平了道路。第三种,即心理实验研究,对聚焦于假定的叙事理解的第二种研究所得出的结论进行验证,或提出挑战。假定的和实验的研究有助于阐明第一种研究的局限性,从而促进后者的进一步发展。

      

四、“强”、“弱”语境主义立场之对比

 

       为了更好地理解语境主义叙事学和形式叙事诗学的互补关系,我们需要进一步考察语境主义的立场。语境主义立场有强弱之分,本文前面所讨论的语境主义研究都属于“”的一类。值得注意的是,强弱之间的差异不是程度上的,而是不同类别的。强语境主义立场赋予语境所有决定性的力量,而弱语境主义立场则承认文本自身的文类身份。对强语境主义立场的一个新近的富有活力的探索出现在迈克尔·卡恩斯(Michael Kearns)的《修辞性叙事学》(Rhetorical Narratology)中,它将言语行为理论作为其理论基础。卡恩斯的强语境主义主张是语境主义的一个极端。但卡恩斯的书之所以有价值和启示性,是因为卡恩斯的实践与他的理论主张并不完全吻合。通过对卡恩斯的论点作详尽的分析,我们可以看到强弱立场之间不可避免的冲突,言语行为理论的引进反倒有助于揭示这种冲突。

      据卡恩斯所言:“合适的语境可能导致几乎所有文本被视为叙事的,……而且,没有文本因素可以保证这样的接受。”P2)他引用了佩特里(Petrey)的一个“极好的例子”:拿报纸文章中的“宪法暂缓执行”与政府法令中同样的一个句子相比,以说明同一串词在不同的语境中可能有完全不同的效果(Kearns 11)。在一种语境中,这些词表述了政府一命令即生效的行为,而在另一种语境中则只是一种陈述。但我们从佩特里身上可以看到比卡恩斯平稳得多的立场,佩特里的结论是:“语内表现行为的力量是语言和社会实践的结合。”(P13)。佩特里对语言和社会实践都很关注,而卡恩斯只看到了决定“任何话语”力量的语境的能量(P11)。现在,让我们来看一个句子——“这部宪法是1980年制定的”,无论这个句子出现在报纸文章里还是政府法令中,它都不是表述行为的,因为它只是描述了一个过去的事件。政府法令中“宪法暂缓执行”的述行力量,同时取决于语言的结构和适当的条件。

       如果“合适的语境可能导致几乎所有文本被视为叙事的”,那么,叙事与非叙事之间的区分就会失去意义,因为我们面对的只是“合适的语境”中惟一一种文本类型。而且,如果语境能够使“任何文本”或所有文本成为一种类型,那么,文类之间的所有区分都会失去基础,根据文类规约所做的文本研究也就没有意义了。正如前面所提到的,言语行为理论家们的研究基于不同话语类型(例如,报纸文章对比政府法令,传统小说对比新小说)或不同情景语境(例如,法庭审判对比电视报道)之间的差异,他们将文本的文类身份视为当然,继而考察阐释过程中的文类规约,因此,显示出弱语境主义的立场。

卡恩斯声称:“言语行为理论事实上为我的强语境主义立场提供了根据,因此也为真正的‘修辞’叙事学提供了根据。这一理论被界定为‘一种描述,这种描述关乎可理解性条件,关乎在一个群体中如何表达意义,关乎在可以被称之为理解之前必须制定的程序’(Fish 1024) 。”(Kearns 10) 但正因为言语行为理论家强调“可理解性条件”,他们特别关注文本自身的文类身份和文本所属文类的规约。例如,普拉特曾断言:“我所主张的是,不管小说中的虚构话语采用什么形式,文本是小说这一事实自动允许读者采用这些规则来阐释这一虚构的言语行为 (P206)如果罗伯-格里耶(Robbe-Grillet)的《在迷宫》(Dans le labyrinthe)不是被视为一种新小说,而是在某种文本外语境的影响下被视为非虚构日常叙事,这本书肯定难以被理解。现在我们应该可以看清楚,就赋予语境一切决定性力量的强立场而言,研究不可能真正是修辞性的,因为它允许采用“错误的”规约来阐释文本,甚至抹去文类上的差异。而且,他们的研究不可能是真正叙事学的,因为它忽略文本自身的特性,比方说,在语境的影响下使非叙事被阐释为叙事,或者相反。

      然而,值得注意的是,卡恩斯的《修辞性叙事学》呈现的是各种方法的综合,涉及的内容极为丰富,对相关领域的涵盖也极为广泛。各种理论的融会贯通发挥着矫正卡恩斯本人理论模式的功用。例如,卡恩斯融合了布莱奇(Bleich)关于性别和阅读的观点、兰瑟关于叙述声音的观点,这就使得他在自己的叙事学批评中超越了“情景语境”而进入到社会历史语境之中。而且,形式叙事诗学作为一种技术层面的基础也得以保存下来。经典叙事学模式甚至支配着“叙述的时间结构”( Temporal Structure of Narrating(P140-52) 和“人物话语的再现” Representing Speech (P152-61)这两个部分。卡恩斯对热奈特的叙事时间倒错分类法评述如下:

一方面,叙事对事件严格的线性顺序的偏离符合人类对时间的体验,而且各种偏离(例如,一般人们所说的倒叙和提前叙述)对读者会产生不同的影响。另一方面,一部小说中时间倒错究竟会有多么重要,它们在受时间束缚的阅读中又是如何运作的,这一分类法对此只字未提。从实用的角度来看,可以教给学生们这样的基本结构分类,正如可以教给他们诗歌韵脚的主要类型一样。但也必须引导他们认识到,没有什么“预叙”(热奈特描述提前叙述的术语)本身是重要的,个人的、文本的、修辞的和文化的语境与这一元素所包含的价值有很大的关联。(P5)

从这一论述,我们可以清楚地看到形式叙事诗学与语境批评之间的差异。前者关注作为一种文类的叙事小说的基本结构,而后者则探讨在“个人的、文本的、修辞的和文化的语境”中的特定作品。从卡恩斯的以上论述中,还可以推断出不同的叙事策略,例如,倒序和预叙既有各自的语境化意义(当用于具体的叙事中时),又有(与同类策略)共享的文类功能,后者能够以脱离语境的方式“对读者产生不同的影响”。对特定叙事中叙事策略之效果的研究必须考虑两种意义。形式叙事诗学提供了叙事策略的分类,并讨论了它们的文类功能,因此为回答各种语境中叙事的相关问题提供了有用的工具。由此看来,以下现象就不奇怪了:尽管卡恩斯理论上将形式叙事诗学排除出强语境化立场,经典叙事诗学仍然构成其修辞研究最重要的技术基础。

 

五、结论

 

有一点应该很清楚了,形式叙事诗学在各种语境叙事学中存在并发展着,其中我们可以看到一种三重的互利关系:(1)新的脱离语境的结构模式由于语境批评而得到发展;(2)语境叙事学的理论贡献既依赖于又拓展了经典叙事诗学;(3)语境批评采用了经典结构工具,这反过来又帮助经典叙事诗学获得了当下的相关性。很明显,根本不应该存在形式叙事诗学和语境叙事学之间的对抗(丁格特(Diengott)和兰瑟之间在《文体》(Style杂志上的论争1988)就是这种对抗的典型实例)。

作为各种语境化叙事学分析的一个重要技术基础,形式叙事诗学需要不断地、积极地改进和发展,正如前面所指出的,现有的叙事诗学还不免存在缺陷,需要不断地修正和丰富(请参看 Shen “Narrative”; “Defense”; “Difference”),需要采用新的工具(请参看Ryan Possible; “Cyberage”),也需要进一步拓展到新的领域(请参看 Cuddy-Keane; Richardson “Beyond”)。只要现有的结构模式存在改进的空间,只要在各种体裁和媒体中的叙事文类结构没有为描述所穷尽,只要新的结构和技巧在未来的叙事中出现从而为未来的叙事学分类或描述提供空间,形式叙事诗学就能成为一种“开放的、有活力的、永不休止的理论模式”(Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 48)

      20世纪末谈到叙事学的境况时,米克·巴尔描绘出了一幅悲惨的图景:“文本-语法已不再出现,形式主义模式被视为是不相干的了,当有人还在坚持早期结构主义者的区分时,很多在1979年讨论自由间接话语识别标准的人已经挪动了位置,去进行分析实践,而不是担心如何进行实践。”(Narratology 13)虽然许多叙事学家已转向叙事学批评,但正如巴尔所言:“应用可能意味着对不完美理论的毫无保留的接受。”(ibid.)尽管在一些国家,形式叙事诗学作为一块领地“继续为相对数量有限的专家所实践和增强”(Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative 135),但至少在北美,在过去15年左右的时间里形式叙事诗学已沦落到这样的田地——只能“伪装成”语境主义或后经典叙事学的一部分而勉强为生。这显然阻碍了它的发展。应当强调的是,推进形式叙事诗学的发展——在语境叙事学内部或作为一个独立的范畴(作为不断充实的语境批评的工具库)——对语境叙事学的发展具有非常重要的意义。还有一点应当明确:让语境方法远离叙事学(Diengott),就是对有益的、鲜活的力量和资源关上大门,这实际上是向叙事学的“救星”关上大门,至少对北美是如此。为了叙事学领域的发展,澄清不同的叙事学研究与读者和语境的不同关系,区分文类功能和语境中的意义,不把语境叙事学和形式叙事诗学看作一种相互排斥的关系,而把它们视为一种相互滋养的关系,现在该是时候了。

 

注释:

戴维·达比(David Darby)的论文及其在Poetics Today 24.3 (2003)中引发的争论焦点在于德国和北美情况之间的关系。

然而,“作者的声音”在现代已不再享有其以往的权威性,在后现代甚至不合时宜,但一旦在叙事中出现,它较之“个人的声音”还是更具权威性——除非对其进行滑稽模仿,或以其它反讽的方式使用。

中国的情形则大不一样。20世纪70年代末及80年代初,西方文学理论和批评的各种流派突然涌进中国。由于几十年来一直从事政治批评,许多中国学者对以文本为导向的流派特别感兴趣。因此,当美国学术界试图摆脱形式主义批评的局限以便更好地理解文学与社会、历史和意识形态的关系时,许多中国学者则从政治批评转向了形式和审美研究。1980年前后,外部批评在中国甚至受到了暂时的排斥。但幸运的是,这种情形很快就出现了转机,中国学者越来越意识到形式主义和内部批评的局限性。近来,语境叙事学和形式叙事诗学得到了共同的发展。如果1980年的中国和20世纪80年代以来的北美构成了鲜明的两极,其它国家则处于两极之间的某个位置。

有关不同阅读立场更多的讨论,参见Booth; Rabinowitz 1987; Phelan 1989, 1996, 2005; Kearns; Herman 2002

即使是在“叙事化”(“一种借助于叙事图示以归化文本的阅读策略”)的情况下(Fludernik, Towards 34),文本特征依然起着重要作用。莫尼卡·弗卢德尼克提供了以下两个例子来说明叙事化:罗伯-格里耶的《嫉妒》,常常被叙事化为充满妒意的丈夫透过百叶窗对其妻子的观察;并且,“正是‘摄像式’手法这一术语”,“显示了另一类试图将文本与一个源于生活经验的框架相关联的叙事化。”(Towards 46)在《嫉妒》中,文本常常暗示视角源自百叶窗后面(显然,作者以此种写作手法来邀请读者对文本做这样的阐释)。至于“摄像式”视角,这一隐喻性术语由诺曼·弗里德曼借自衣修午德(Isherwood)的小说《再见吧,柏林》中叙述者的开头语:“我是一部打开了遮光器的摄相机,是完全被动的,只是记录,什么也不想” (请参看 Friedman 1179) 。“摄像式”视角这一术语仅仅适用于这样一种文本:其“目的就是,当‘生活的一个片段’经过记录工具时,对其进行直接记录,既不选择,也不加工”(Friedman 1179),并且它对其它任何一种文本都不适用。

卡恩斯断言,“叙事性和虚构性一样,是语境的一个功能”(P35),而不是文本的功能。但我认为,虽然虚构性往往与文本特征无关,但是文本要素在决定叙事性方面却扮演着重要得多的角色(即使就前一种情况而言,语境本身也无法决定虚构性:真实的电话簿就是真实的电话簿,哪怕特定的语境引导读者把它视为虚构的)。和虚构性不同,叙事性通常应当被视为“既是文本内的又是文本外的” (Prince, Remarks 104)。让我们举些例子——“二加二等于四”,或“旧金山是个美丽的城市”,或“为了保护环境,树木必须得到保护”——我相信,没有人会断言上述例句在适当的语境中可以构成叙事(see also note 5)

 

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[*]这是申丹在美国《叙事理论期刊》上发表的英文论文的译文。原文为:Dan Shen, “Why Contextual and Formal Narratologies Need Each Other,” JNT: Journal of Narrative Theory Vol. 35, No. 2 (summer, 2005): 141—171。本译文原载《江西社会科学》2006年第10期第3954页,此处删除了摘要和作者简介

 

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