Discourse and discourse situation

? The discourse situation of literature(levels of discourse situation) ? Point of view ? Multiplicity of values ? Value language ( irony, tone , distance) ? Conclusion

The discourse situation of spoken and written utterance
? Addresser message addressee ? In spoken utterance the production and reception of message normally take place within a single context of time and space. ? Written discourse(literature) is a kind of discourse where the writer can assume relatively little about the receiver of his message or the context in which it will be received.

Some terms
? Implied author & implied reader(Wayne Booth )
? Authors & narrators I-narrators Third person narration

Narrators & characters

The implied author: it refers to the author-image evoked by a work and constituted by the stylistic, ideological, and aesthetic properties for which indexical signs can be found in the text. The ?mock reader? or the implied reader: it was coined by Booth ([1961] 1983) as a counterpart of the implied author , it is the author?s image of the recipient that is fixed and objectified in the text by specific indexical signs.

Addresser 1 (Author)

Addressee 1 (Reader)


Addresser 2 (Implied Author)

Addressee 2 (Implied reader)


Here author means implied author and reader means implied reader. How and when to distinguish them?

? In literary work, the narrator is the person who tells the story. ? When the narrator is also a character within the story, he or she is sometimes known as the first person or firstperson narrator. The reader sees everything through that character's eyes. ? In a work with third-person narrator, where reference by the narrator to himself is avoided. The absence of an ?I? invites the reader to assume that there is no explicit ?you?, the narration is presented to the reader directly.

Addresser 1 (Author) Message

Addressee 1 (Reader)

Addresser 2 (Implied author) Message

Addressee 2 (Implied reader)

Addresser 3 (Narrator) Message

Addressee 3 (Interlocutor)

Discourse levels concerned with the narrators

Addresser 1 (Author)


Addressee 1 (Reader)

Addresser 2 (Implied author) Message Addresser 3 (Narrator) Message Addresser 4 (Character) Message

Addressee 2 (Implied reader)

Addressee 3 (Interlocutor)

Addressee 4 (Character)

The final levels of discourse concerned with characters

The levels of discourse, particularly where the author withholds the signals of transition from one level to another, can be a rich source of ambiguity and complexity of interpretation.

Discourse point of view
? Narrative point of view in the writing of fiction describes the narrator's position in relation to the story being told. ? Henry James makes great contribution to point of view, he put forward that point of view should have two functions one is the content and the other is the form. In Chinese there are two points:首先,“视点”人物必须同 时充当展示人物意识和构建小说有机整体的中心点。其次 ,视点的选择必须与小说的主题相吻合。 The widely recognized classification of point of view is rather simple: first-person narrative, second-person point of view and third-person point of view.

In a first-person narrative the story is relayed by a narrator who is also a character within the story, Often, the first-person narrative is used as a way to directly convey the deeply internal, unspoken thoughts of the narrator. It also allows that character to be further developed through his/her own style in telling the story. In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on his/her own viewing of events. It is an important task for the reader to determine as much as possible about the character of the narrator in order to decide what "really" happens.

? “Second-person” point of view is the rarely used mode which can help to create the intimacy between the narrator and the readers. The second-person pronoun “you” sometimes stands for a specific character in a novel, sometimes refers to the implied reader and occasionally represents the narrator himself or herself.

? Third-person narration provides the greatest flexibility to the author and thus is the most commonly used narrative mode in literature. In the third-person narrative mode, each and every character is referred to by the narrator as "he", "she", "it", or "they“. ? The third-person modes are usually categorized along two axes. The first is the subjectivity/objectivity axis, with "subjective" narration describing one or more character's feelings and thoughts, and "objective" narration not describing the feelings or thoughts of any characters. The second axis is the omniscient/limited axis, a distinction that refers to the knowledge available to the narrator. An omniscient narrator has knowledge of all times, people, places, and events, including all characters' thoughts; a limited narrator, in contrast, may know absolutely everything about a single character and every piece of knowledge in that character's mind, but the narrator's knowledge is "limited" to that character — that is, the narrator cannot describe things unknown to the focal character.

? Alternating person view While the general rule is for novels to adopt a single approach to point of view throughout, there are exceptions. Many stories, especially in literature, alternate between the first and third person. In this case, an author will move back and forth between a more omniscient thirdperson narrator to a more personal first-person narrator.

Multiplicity of values
? Value picture of a novel: is the evaluative counterpart of the mock-reality which it conveys. ? Two kinds of value contrast were put forward by Booth: unreliable narrator & reliable character. ? An unreliable narrator is a narrator, whose credibility has been seriously compromised. This narrative mode is one that can be developed by an author for a number of reasons, usually to deceive the reader or audience. Most often unreliable narrators are first-person narrators, but sometimes third-person narrators can also be unreliable. ? The cases of value contrast is what Booth calls a ?secret communion? between (implied) author and (implied) reader.

Irony, tone and distance
? Irony :for fictional purposes irony may be defined as a double significance which arises from the contrast in values associated with two different points of view. ? The ?secret communion? between author and reader is the basis of irony. ? Irony shows itself in a ?collocative clash?, that is , a combination of words which conflicts with our expectations.

Authorial tone: it means ?the stance or attitude taken by an (implied) author towards his reader, and towards (parts of) his message?.

(Implied) Author

(Implied) Reader


Assume here a symmetry between the attitudes the author expresses, and the attitudes elicited from the reader ,as if the reader?s situation is a mirror-image of the author?s. The notion of distance is the key to the symmetry of tone.

? Discourse situation is multilevel. ? The stylistic values we considered here are point of view, distance ,irony and tone. Stylistic values at all levels become contributions to the way a literary work is interpreted as a transaction between author and reader. ? The difference between the ?interfering? author and the ?disappearing? one is not that the one exists in the novel while the other does not, but rather that the one conveys his presence directly, while the other does so only through the inferences we inevitably draw from the way the fiction is presented.

Thank you!


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