Coincidence and counterfactuality: plotting time and space in narrative fiction
University of Nebraska Press, Jul 1, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 289 pages
In Coincidence and Counterfactuality, a groundbreaking analysis of plot, Hilary P. Dannenberg sets out to answer the perennial question of how to tell a good story. While plot is among the most integral aspects of storytelling, it is perhaps the least studied aspect of narrative. Using plot theory to chart the development of narrative fiction from the Renaissance to the present, Dannenberg demonstrates how the novel has evolved over time and how writers have developed increasingly complex narrative strategies that tap into key cognitive parameters familiar to the reader from real-life experience. Dannenberg proposes a new, multidimensional theory for analyzing time and space in narrative fiction, then uses this theory to trace the historical evolution of narrative fiction by focusing on coincidence and counterfactuality. These two key plot strategies are constructed around pivotal moments when characters’ life trajectories, or sometimes the paths of history, converge or diverge. The study’s rich historical and textual scope reveals how narrative traditions and genres such as romance and realism or science fiction and historiographic metafiction, rather than being separated by clear boundaries are in fact in a continual process of interaction and cross-fertilization. In highlighting critical stages in the historical development of narrative fiction, the study produces new readings of works by pinpointing the innovative role played by particular authors in this evolutionary process. Dannenberg’s original investigation of plot patterns is interdisciplinary, incorporating research from narrative theory, cognitive approaches to literature, social psychology, possible worlds theory, and feminist approaches to narrative.
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actual alternate history alternate worlds Austen's causal causal-manipulative causal-progenerative century chapter characters Chatterton cognitive coincidence and counterfactuality coincidence plot coincidental encounter coincidental relationships complex concept construction contrast convergence counterfactual history counterfactual version counterfactual world create Daniel Deronda depiction Deronda Dickens discourse Eliot example fictional world Flaubert's Parrot future genre George Eliot Gwendolen heterodiegetic historical counterfactuals historiographic metafiction human immersion involves Jane Eyre kinship reunion literary love plot Mansfield Park marriage Martin Chuzzlewit metaphor modernist Moll Moll Flanders Moon Palace multiple narrative fiction narrative world negative coincidence nineteenth-century novel ontological hierarchy path patterns plots of coincidence plotting principle possible worlds postmodernist Random Quest reader real-world history realist recognition scene representation Roese and Olson romance scenario schemata science fiction sense sequence space spatial story strategies structure suspense temporal orchestration terfactual tion traditional coincidence plot upward counterfactual version of history virtual