The Inescapable Metaphor: How Time and Meaning Become Space When We Think about Narrative
Abstract

Abstract:

Stories go places. It is impossible to talk about narrative without using spatial terms, such as “plotline,” “narrative thread,” “twists and turns,” “pacing,” or “circularity.” In such metaphors, the two essential elements of narrative, time and meaning, are consistently replaced by distance and direction. Drawing on Bergson’s ideas on the spatial representation of time and Boroditsky’s cognitive research into spatial metaphors in abstract thought, and using literary digression in Sterne and Diderot as illustration, I consider the pervasiveness of these metaphors in narrative theory, and the consequences of such spatial mediation in the discipline’s analysis of narrative form.