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Linguistic Characteristics of Premodern Japanese Narrative: Issues of Narrative Voice and Mood


Balmes, Sebastian (2020). Linguistic Characteristics of Premodern Japanese Narrative: Issues of Narrative Voice and Mood. Beiträge zur mediävistischen Erzählforschung, (7):59-112.

Abstract

In order to examine linguistic characteristics of classical and medieval Japanese literature, this article considers two categories that Gérard Genette defined in his ‘Narrative Discourse’: voice and mood. First, the specific ways in which narratorial presence is created in premodern Japanese texts and how they relate to grammatical person are discussed. Subsequently, the paper scrutinizes the status of the narrator(s) of ‘The Tale of Genji’ and other narratives, who are neither fully heterodiegetic nor homodiegetic, not only due to linguistic conventions but also because of premodern conceptions of literature. The section on mood is divided into perspective and distance. It is shown how ‘internal’ focalization is constituted in Japanese narrative, and what problems are raised by the distinction between voice and perspective. Finally, the definition of distance is reconsidered through the analysis of Japanese texts, leading to a conclusion that coincides with theoretical observations, and to the realization that in Japanese narrative distance can hardly be determined by speech representation.

Abstract

In order to examine linguistic characteristics of classical and medieval Japanese literature, this article considers two categories that Gérard Genette defined in his ‘Narrative Discourse’: voice and mood. First, the specific ways in which narratorial presence is created in premodern Japanese texts and how they relate to grammatical person are discussed. Subsequently, the paper scrutinizes the status of the narrator(s) of ‘The Tale of Genji’ and other narratives, who are neither fully heterodiegetic nor homodiegetic, not only due to linguistic conventions but also because of premodern conceptions of literature. The section on mood is divided into perspective and distance. It is shown how ‘internal’ focalization is constituted in Japanese narrative, and what problems are raised by the distinction between voice and perspective. Finally, the definition of distance is reconsidered through the analysis of Japanese texts, leading to a conclusion that coincides with theoretical observations, and to the realization that in Japanese narrative distance can hardly be determined by speech representation.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:490 Other languages
890 Other literatures
Language:English
Date:2020
Deposited On:26 Nov 2020 14:40
Last Modified:02 Feb 2023 09:10
Publisher:BIS-Verlag
ISSN:2568-9967
Additional Information:Special Issue 7: Narratological Perspectives on Premodern Japanese Literature
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.25619/BmE20203122
Related URLs:https://www.zora.uzh.ch/id/eprint/192516/
  • Content: Published Version
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)