The Unexpected: Narrative Temporality And The Philosophy Of Surprise by Mark Currie

135753db8c7205f.jpg Author Mark Currie
Isbn 9780748676293
File size 2.6 MB
Year 2013
Pages 224
Language English
File format PDF
Category philosophy


The Unexpected CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd i 06/12/2012 15:17 The Frontiers of Theory Series Editor: Martin McQuillan The Poetics of Singularity: The Counter-Culturalist Turn in Heidegger, Derrida, Blanchot and the later Gadamer Timothy Clark Dream I Tell You Hélène Cixous Scandalous Knowledge: Science, Truth, and the Human Barbara Herrnstein Smith Geneses, Genealogies, Genres and Genius Jacques Derrida Insister of Jacques Derrida Hélène Cixous About Time: Narrative, Fiction and the Philosophy of Time Mark Currie Not Half No End: Militantly Melancholic Essays in Memory of Jacques Derrida Geoffrey Bennington Death-Drive: Freudian Hauntings in Literature and Art Robert Rowland Smith Of Jews and Animals Andrew Benjamin Reading and Responsibility: Deconstruction’s Traces Derek Attridge To Follow: The Wake of Jacques Derrida Peggy Kamuf Volleys of Humanity: Essays 1972–2009 Hélène Cixous Veering: A Theory of Literature Nicholas Royle The Post-Romantic Predicament Paul de Man, ed. Martin McQuillan Poetry in Painting: Writings on Contemporary Arts and Aesthetics Hélène Cixous, ed. Marta Segarra and Joana Masó The Paul de Man Notebooks Paul de Man, ed. Martin McQuillan The Unexpected: Narrative Temporality and the Philosophy of Surprise Mark Currie Working with Benjamin Andrew Benjamin Against Mastery: Creative Readings and Weak Force Sarah Wood Visit the Frontiers of Theory website at CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd ii 06/12/2012 15:17 The Unexpected Narrative Temporality and the Philosophy of Surprise Mark Currie CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd iii 06/12/2012 15:17 To Tory, with love © Mark Currie, 2013 Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LF Typeset in 10.5/13 pt Sabon by Servis Filmsetting Ltd, Stockport, Cheshire, and printed and bound in Great Britain by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon CR0 4YY A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978 0 7486 7629 3 (hardback) ISBN 978 0 7486 7630 9 (webready PDF) ISBN 978 0 7486 7631 6 (epub) ISBN 978 0 7486 7632 3 (Amazon ebook) The right of Mark Currie to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd iv 06/12/2012 15:17 Contents Series Editor’s Preface Acknowledgements Introduction: What Lies Ahead vi viii 1 PART I Surprise and the Theory of Narrative 1. A Flow of Unforeseeable Novelty 2. Narratological Approaches to the Unforeseeable 11 34 PART II The Unpredictable and the Future Anterior 3. Prediction and the Age of the Unknowable 4. What Will Have Happened: Writing and the Future Perfect 5. The Untimely and the Messianic 55 67 78 PART III Time Flow and the Process of Reading 6. Narrative Modality: Possibility, Probability and the Passage of Time 7. Temporal Perspective: Narrative Futurity and the Distribution of Knowledge 99 114 PART IV The Unforeseeable in Fictional Form 8. Maximum Peripeteia: Reversal of Fortune and the Rhetoric of Temporal Doubling 9. Freedom and the Inescapable Future 10. The Philosophy of Grammar 127 148 163 Bibliography Index 176 181 CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd v 06/12/2012 15:17 Series Editor’s Preface Since its inception Theory has been concerned with its own limits, ends and after-life. It would be an illusion to imagine that the academy is no longer resistant to Theory but a significant consensus has been established and it can be said that Theory has now entered the mainstream of the humanities. Reaction against Theory is now a minority view and new generations of scholars have grown up with Theory. This leaves so-called Theory in an interesting position which its own procedures of auto-critique need to consider: what is the nature of this mainstream Theory and what is the relation of Theory to philosophy and the other disciplines which inform it? What is the history of its construction and what processes of amnesia and the repression of difference have taken place to establish this thing called Theory? Is Theory still the site of a more-than-critical affirmation of a negotiation with thought, which thinks thought’s own limits? ‘Theory’ is a name that traps by an aberrant nominal effect the transformative critique which seeks to reinscribe the conditions of thought in an inaugural founding gesture that is without ground or precedent: as a ‘name’, a word and a concept, Theory arrests or misprisions such thinking. To imagine the frontiers of Theory is not to dismiss or to abandon Theory (on the contrary one must always insist on the it-is-necessary of Theory even if one has given up belief in theories of all kinds). Rather, this series is concerned with the presentation of work which challenges complacency and continues the transformative work of critical thinking. It seeks to offer the very best of contemporary theoretical practice in the humanities, work which continues to push ever further the frontiers of what is accepted, including the name of Theory. In particular, it is interested in that work which involves the necessary endeavour of crossing disciplinary frontiers without dissolving the specificity of disciplines. Published by Edinburgh University Press, in the city of Enlightenment, this series promotes a certain closeness to that spirit: the continued exer- CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd vi 06/12/2012 15:17 Series Editor’s Preface vii cise of critical thought as an attitude of inquiry which counters modes of closed or conservative opinion. In this respect the series aims to make thinking think at the frontiers of theory. Martin McQuillan CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd vii 06/12/2012 15:17 Acknowledgements The Unexpected continues from my earlier book About Time, also published in this series. The idea was the secret sharer in that earlier argument about anticipation and futurity in narrative, and I am very grateful to Edinburgh University Press, and particularly to Martin McQuillan and Jackie Jones for allowing them to sit together on the list as companions. There are many others who have responded to the material as it developed or invited me to present it at seminars or conferences, and I am particularly grateful to Rebecca Beasley, Laura Marcus, Jesse Matz, Jane Elliott, Drew Milne, Randall Stephenson, Amy Elias, Sebastian Groes, Sean Matthews, Kuisma Korhonen, Sarah Dillon, Craig Bourne and Emily Caddick. I am deeply grateful in lots of different ways to friends and colleagues who have shaped the content of this book, or helped me in the writing, or just plain helped me; I particularly want to thank Patricia Waugh, Derek Attridge, Jean Boase-Beier, Stephen Benson, Andrew Cowan, Jeannette Baxter, Robert Eaglestone, Suzanne Hobson, Rachel Bowlby, Giles Foden, Tina Chanter, Ruth Ronen, Ken Newton, Michèle Barrett, Jacqueline Rose, Paul Hamilton, Shahidha Bari and Geoff Ward. I was part of a six-week seminar led by Frank Kermode at the School of Criticism and Theory in 1990 on the subject of literary value; the debates and issues discussed in that group surface repeatedly in this argument, and I would like to thank all those involved, so many years later, for an enduring influence. An earlier version of Chapter 9 appeared in Kazuo Ishiguro (Matthews and Groes 2009). Several other people read and responded to this work while in progress, and I would like to thank David Herman, David James and Markman Ellis in particular for being brilliant readers. Special mention must go to the wonderful students of Queen Mary, University of London, who have been a source of constant insight and surprise. Mark Currie CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd viii 06/12/2012 15:17 Introduction: What Lies Ahead In what lies ahead there is a central claim about the temporality of narrative: namely, that it operates according to a tense structure quite different from the one we normally assume for it. This tense structure is the future perfect, the tense that refers to something that lies ahead and yet which is already complete, not what will happen, but what will have happened. There is a hint of the impossible in the future perfect. It seems to ascribe to the future the one property that it cannot possess, but it will be my claim that this hint of the impossible, of a future that has already taken place, not only offers us an account of narrative temporality, but also tells us something about how we use stories to reconcile what we expect with what we experience, the foreseeable with the unexpected. The idea of tense structure, in this sense, follows Genette in Narrative Discourse when he says that we should ‘organize, or at any rate formulate, the problems of analyzing narrative discourse according to the categories [i.e. tense, mood, voice] borrowed from the grammar of verbs’ (Genette 1980, 30). Just as the notion of first person narrative voice borrows its analytical concept from the conjugation of the verb, so tense structure can borrow the specific structures of temporal reference from tenses; and just as the notion of first person narrative voice is not in any way pronoun-dependent, so too is a tense structure capable of indifference to the tense forms of actual narrative verbs. In the case of tense, however, the borrowing might be thought looser. It might be possible to describe a narrative as first person even where there are no first person pronouns, but such a narrative would be unusual: there is a general prevalence of, though not a logical dependence on, the ‘I’. In the case of tense, we need to acknowledge a more general mismatch between verb forms and temporal reference at the level of the sentence, and this is also true at higher levels of narrative discourse. To claim that narrative operates according to a tense structure called the future perfect is to borrow temporal properties from a tense that is almost never used in narrative CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 1 06/12/2012 15:17 2 Introduction: What Lies Ahead sentences, which differs drastically from the default past tenses of narrative, and offends against our most basic definitions. We normally assume something close to the opposite. We agree with William Labov that narrative is ‘one method of recapitulating past experience’, and assume that its tense structures are, like its tenses, basically retrospective. To think about narrative as the future perfect is not to think about what we normally think of as tense at all: that is, as a description of the basic relation between the time of an utterance and the time to which it refers. It is to acknowledge instead that narrative is a transaction between some recapitulation of past experience and a reading process in which that capitulation of the past is re-experienced, its retrospect decoded in that process as a quasi-present. Tense is one of the things that narrative theory can borrow from the grammar of verbs not only because it describes aspects of the relation between the time of telling and the time to which it refers, but because it can go further than that. Tense can help us to think about this strange mingling of retrospect with presence, as well as the blend of futurity and the already complete, that come about in the reading of a narrative. It can help, in other words, to describe what is sometimes called, in contemporary narratology, temporal engagement: which is to say, a dynamic interaction between the cues of verbal structure and the process of reading. This activity of comprehension, that may or may not take its cues from the grammar of the verb, is focus of this study. This idea of tense, this expansion of tense, is one of the things that we borrow from the grammar of the verb, but it is not the only thing we need for the description of narrative temporality. A study focused on the idea of the unexpected is a study focused on the future, on the way that we anticipate and fail to anticipate what lies ahead, and the grammar of the verb has other conceptual resources that can be drawn upon that are particular to the issues of futurity. Many would argue that the grammatical category relevant to futurity is not tense at all, but modality, not least because, in English, so the argument goes, there is no future tense. In a language that has no tense morpheme, no ending, for the expression of future events, futurity is carried by modal expressions and temporal indicators, and these are capable of expressing almost infinite gradations of certainty, probability and commitment about the future to which they refer. Just as the future perfect tense is one that we would not normally associate with, or find in, narrative sentences, so too modal expressions (which add words such as will, must, should, ought, may, might or could) are not what we would expect from the declarative, retrospective default settings of narrative, which deals in what has happened more than what might happen, and with facts more than with possibilities. Modality, especially modal expressions that carry uncertainty, might not be an CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 2 06/12/2012 15:17 Introduction: What Lies Ahead 3 obvious feature of narrative discourse, but, like the concept of tense, the concept of modality can be scaled up to describe something above the level of the verb or sentence about the dynamics of doubt, uncertainty and knowledge that give narrative its sense of temporal movement. It is clear that some narratives move from mystery to explanation, and so involve some kind of progress from not knowing to knowing as the future of the sequence diminishes and the unread steadily transforms into the already read. This is a useful starting position from which to consider the value of modality to an understanding of narrative time flow, and it is supported by arguments in semantics that modality is the most basic category by which we can understand the passage of time in discourse. According to this view, the impression we have of time flow when we read is produced by the passage from uncertainty to certainty, so that, as the future becomes actualised in the present of reading and passes into the already known or the already read, it models the flow of real time from future to past. It is only a starting position, and runs into problems not only because there are many narratives that do not move from mystery towards explanation, in which progress is a process of increasing bafflement, but also, perhaps more importantly, because it links the question of certainty to questions about what we know and when, or the distribution of knowledge and the structure of disclosure of any given narrative. If we are going to use the concept of modality to describe narrative we will have to link it to this question of the distribution of information, or the perspectival structures of narrative, as well as to other questions about expectation and foreknowledge that are not always wholly controlled by the narrative itself. Like tense, the concept of modality has to expand in such a way that it brings those aspects of the grammar of the verb concerned with probability and certainty to bear on the perspectival structures of narrative, and the effect that they have on the way we think about, perhaps even conceptualise, the future outside of written stories. Tense and modality have their place in the discussion to come, particularly for the way that they can be used to link narrative temporality to the experience of time in life. At times I will speak of a tense narratology, and this in itself signals the importance of grammar for the analysis, as well as for the philosophical understanding of narrative. But that signal is not a straightforward acceptance of the authority of grammatical or linguistic terminology, and it may at times be necessary to distance myself from the strongest affiliations that exist in contemporary narratology to linguistics. There is a larger point here about the direction that narrative theory has taken since Genette and others formulated this project to analyse narrative according to categories borrowed from CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 3 06/12/2012 15:17 4 Introduction: What Lies Ahead the grammar of the verb, and particularly in the light of the energetic refurbishment of linguistic categories that has taken place in the name of cognitive narratology in recent times. If the early pioneers of narratology saw linguistics as their global science, those who pursue narratology as one of the cognitive sciences have often done so by re-establishing linguistics as the preeminent enquiry into the mind and its processes. Those earlier phases in the history of narratology, when, for example, Genette, Jacobson and Barthes called for this kind of borrowing from the description of sentences for the analysis of narrative, are now commonly referred to as the classical moment of narratology, a phase which comes to an end in the various kinds of assault upon the scientific authority of linguistics that are generally associated with poststructuralism in the mid-twentieth century. However we understand this break, what is now often referred to as postclassical narratology has marked its difference from the classical phase by rejecting many of the debilitating assumptions of the classical, structuralist phase. Prominent amongst these abandoned assumptions are the excessive and wrongheaded attitudes that prevailed in structuralist linguistics and, by extension, in classical narratology, to the question of reference in language, which found their way into the study of narrative as the bearers of what now seem perplexing propositions that narrative somehow failed to refer to the world. Postclassical narratology is by no means the only area of literary studies that moved away from such propositions and assumptions, but it has provided some of the most technical arguments with which to overturn the structuralist moratorium on referential issues. It seems important to acknowledge here that the linguistic models that presided over classical narratology were partial and limited in the way that they drew upon linguistic theory, and that their borrowings were often unreliable invocations of the authority of linguistics. Postclassical narratology, by contrast, has encompassed a much broader knowledge of linguistic sources, and most importantly, has turned to arguments in semantics that challenge and reject the reductions of these earlier models. I want to argue that, for all the intellectual reinvigoration that has resulted from these postclassical tendencies, there is also an unnecessary and limiting exclusion, a reluctance to incorporate insights which derive from the philosophical traditions that were most involved in questioning the authority of linguistics in the first place. Some of these excluded perspectives are those that were most influential in the critique of structuralism and its linguistic model, and which came from phenomenology, and Derrida’s critique of phenomenology in the mid- to late twentieth century, but, perhaps more importantly, the kinds of perspective that are still flourishing in the twenty-first century that emerged from them. In what lies ahead, I am CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 4 06/12/2012 15:17 Introduction: What Lies Ahead 5 going to argue that an understanding of temporality needs these perspectives, and that in the analysis of futurity in particular we find a test case for the importance of a more integrated narratology. To my mind, this is one response to the question of how to understand the orientations of contemporary narratology: that a contemporary narratologist must be one who responds to the poststructuralist challenges that were laid against structuralist approaches to narrative, and develops the temporal turn that was at the centre of their critique. To refine the proposition further, the argument ahead is concerned to show that an understanding of narrative temporality, in fictional as well as conceptual and cognitive contexts, can find many of its analytical resources in what can be called the philosophy of surprise. Before taking these questions more slowly, there is something else that can be said quickly about focusing on the unexpected. I began this introduction with the suggestion that the future perfect offered a temporal structure with particular relevance for narrative, but in what follows it is the relationship between the future perfect and the unexpected that repeatedly comes into focus. If the future perfect, or future anteriority, designates an uncertain blend of futurity and pastness that happens when we read, the unexpected also seems to have some necessary connection to the telling or reading of stories. Studies of storytelling in everyday conversation show that the relaying of an unexpected event is one of the primary functions of narrative, to the point where the mere staging of a narrative in conversation produces the expectation that something unexpected will have taken place by the time it is over. This is one version of the relationship between the future perfect and the unexpected, that what will have happened is something unexpected. The very telling of a story, especially an unsolicited story in everyday life, can produce expectations of the unexpected, or a kind of foreshadowing of the unforeseen. We can note also that a similar paradox hangs over Aristotle’s account of tragic plots, or at least what he calls ‘complex’ plots, which are instructive exactly because they get to their destination through an unexpected route. The future perfect, then, suggests a kind of doubling of temporal perspective, of what will happen with what has already taken place, which is also observable in the notion of narrative surprise, and which seems central to many of the most influential approaches to narrative, whether they occur in everyday or literary settings. There is, in other words, an important proximity between the two notions and the kind of double structure that they impute to narrative time, which nevertheless cannot be thought of as an identity, and, for this reason, they must be thought about together. This is one way of identifying the importance of the philosophy of surprise as a resource for CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 5 06/12/2012 15:17 6 Introduction: What Lies Ahead the analysis of narrative, since we find this relationship, this tension, between the future anterior and surprise in many recent philosophical approaches to time. In Derrida’s work, for example, there is an early interest in future anteriority that transforms slowly into a preoccupation with messianic time, or more specifically with what he calls the ‘messianic without content’, by which he designates a certain kind of unforeseen, and yet expected, arrival from the future. This is one of the philosophical contexts that this study aims to bring to the notion of surprise in narrative, but there are versions of the same kind of tension in philosophical thinking about events, about the event, in Bergson and Levinas, as well as perspectives that have gained influence more recently through the writings of Badiou and Žižek. These contexts can seem quite distant from the immediate concerns of narrative theory, yet their concerns with the temporality of action and responsibility are often those that we find writ large in narrative, in the paradoxes that surround the future anterior and the unforeseeability of events. If the notion of tense is to be expanded to account for the relationship between narrative and lived experience, these are contexts that help our crossings from storyworlds to life, or from the modelling of time in narrative to the notion of temporal flow in general. If surprise is a necessary supplement to the future anterior in thinking about narrative, it is also the not-so-secret sharer in our notions of the contemporary. It was always one of the least credible tenets of postmodern literary and cultural theory that we should think about the contemporary as a condition of blocked futurity, in which novelty is reduced to the simulation, repetition and recycling of past forms. Some of this thinking can be attributed to straightforward misreading, of the kind that finds in Derrida’s critique of origins, or of genetic thinking about time, a proposition that originality is defunct as a concept, or finds in his account of the archive, the crypt and the ghost a preoccupation with traces of the past in the present. Nobody has written in a more sustained way about the future than Derrida, or engaged with the eschatological tendencies in contemporary thought more critically. The avenir is Derrida’s preoccupation, and one of its strands is an interest in the future anterior as it bears on expectation and responsibility. One of the most fruitful lines of enquiry into the notion of the contemporary can be found in the use that others have made of this tense to describe an epochal temporality – some distinctively contemporary experience or understanding of time – and to delineate its relations to the thematics of writing. Most famously, in Kristeva and Lyotard, the future anterior is advanced as a tense for our times, and less obviously it is explored by others as a description of temporal becoming, or as a way of being that CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 6 06/12/2012 15:17 Introduction: What Lies Ahead 7 records the present as future memory, and these future-orientated approaches stand as correctives to those depictions of postmodernity that emphasise its orientation towards the past. But we do not need Derrida’s shift towards the concept of messianicity to demonstrate the supplementary value of surprise to these conceptions. However much the notion of future anteriority may have taken hold, in different guises, as an understanding of epochal temporality, it can only be viewed as a specialist interest in comparison to the idea that we inhabit an epoch characterised by the unexpected. It is important to speak here of a notion, or an idea, a certain kind of understanding that a global culture has of itself, rather than of a temporal condition, so problematic is the notion that the contemporary world is somehow more unpredictable than it used to be. But the existence of the idea is difficult to contest, as is the prominence of unforeseeability as a criterion of newsworthiness in the context of global news, of a kind that bestows an epochal canonicity upon the unexpected event. It is also important to attend to the kind of credibility that this idea can derive from the notions of uncertainty and unpredictability that have gathered momentum in the physical and theoretical sciences in recent decades, in quantum mechanics and mathematics, in theoretical physics and evolutionary theory, as well as the applications of game and chaos theory to the unpredictability of economic systems. Some of these areas of enquiry have had to reconcile themselves to the unknowable, and to the natural opacity of the future, while others have inadvertently constructed the category of the unexpected as a state of exception among the predictive laws that they have established. These issues are relevant to my discussion firstly because of the relation they advance between successful prediction and unexpected events, where the unexpected comes into view exactly because of the increasing sophistication of prediction, and secondly because they suggest that surprise is already well established as a category in the description of contemporary experiences of time. There is certainly a burgeoning section of the contemporary publishing industry, in economic and social commentary, devoted to this kind of connection between the accommodation of unpredictability in scientific method and the unforeseeable economic events of the early twenty-first century, and some of these works figure in the discussion ahead. But we should recognise also that there is a more serious end to this, which has brought exactly this kind of thinking about unpredictability, spontaneous eruption, interruption, reversal of fortunes, eventhood, emergence and change into contemporary political philosophy as part of the effort to think about the relation between unexpected events, futurity and social change. It is as if recent thought, especially where conducted under the CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 7 06/12/2012 15:17 8 Introduction: What Lies Ahead banner of the postmodern, has offered an account of only one face of contemporary epochal temporality, of our understanding of our own time-consciousness, concerned with the repetition of what we know. The other face is the unexpected, and in order to think about it, we need to reinstate the future, and, it will be argued, particularly the future that cannot be foreseen, in our conceptualisation of the epochal present. It is one of the convictions of the argument ahead that thinkers who are engaged with narrative surprise bring a special expertise to the wider question of the unforeseeable, and to the dynamics of prospect and retrospect in which the unforeseeable is necessarily experienced and comprehended. CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 8 06/12/2012 15:17 PART I Surprise and the Theory of Narrative CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 9 06/12/2012 15:17 CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 10 06/12/2012 15:17 Chapter 1 A Flow of Unforeseeable Novelty Special problems attach to thinking about what has not yet taken place, and it is far from obvious that the theory of narrative should have anything to say about those problems. But that is what this book aims to do: to consider the role of narrative in our conceptualisation and our cognitive control of the future, and to explore the experience of reading fiction in relation to the idea of time flow. The problems, at first sight, mainly derive from the non-existence of the future: from the fact that thinking about what has not yet taken place differs from thinking about what has happened and what is present because the object of reflection is non-actual, or non-existent. There is an essential emptiness about thoughts with a future-orientation – expectations, anticipations, predictions – because they refer to something that may arrive in a different form, and a kind of provisionality, because they must wait upon the arrival of the object to which they refer for affirmation. Because the future does not exist, thinking about the future exists in a state of suspense, waiting for its arrival, and for the object of thinking to pass from virtuality into actuality. The idea that we wait for the future to arrive, to come into existence or to become actual is full of problematic suppositions. The future differs from the present and the past not only, as Bergson described it, in being non-actual; it is also open, and in being open, it is subject to our efforts, desires and will. One problem with the idea of waiting for the future to arrive is that it assumes a very passive relation to the passing of time. Human subjects are usually busy arranging the future, or actively determining it through their actions in the present. Derrida liked to distinguish between the future that we can predict and the one that actually arrives, but both of these futures are somehow removed from the everyday, active shaping of the future in which most human subjects are constantly engaged. There is a sense in which this relationship between the active shaping of the future and the passive prediction of what will CURRIE 9780748676293 PRINT.indd 11 06/12/2012 15:17

Author Mark Currie Isbn 9780748676293 File size 2.6 MB Year 2013 Pages 224 Language English File format PDF Category Philosophy Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Explores the relationship between unexpected events in narrative and life Focusing on surprise, spontaneous eruption and the unforeseeable, The Unexpected argues that stories help us to reconcile what we expect with what we experience. Though narrative is often understood a recapitulation of past events, the book argues that the unexpected and the future anterior, a future that is already complete, are guiding ideas for new understandings of the reading process. It also points beyond that to some of the key temporal concepts of our epoch, of unpredictability, the event, the untimely and the messianic. The Unexpected is an important intervention in narratology and a striking general argument about the cultural significance of surprise. The enquiry is developed by a range of new readings in philosophy and theory, as well as of Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go and Julian Barnes’s The Sense of an Ending.     Download (2.6 MB) Narrative Identity, Autonomy, And Mortality: From Frankfurt And Macintyre To Kierkegaard Hegel, Husserl and the Phenomenology of Historical Worlds A Philosophy Of Criminal Attempts Kant and the Interests of Reason Hegel on Recollection: Essays on the Concept of Erinnerung in Hegels System Load more posts

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