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Narrative 10.3 (2002) 193-194

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Editor's Column

In the early days of Narrative's history, the great majority of submissions involved work on the English and American novel, and an even greater majority came from scholars located in the United States. These phenomena are not at all surprising, given the membership in the Society for the Study of Narrative Literature. Over the past ten years, however, as the journal has made its way in the world and as the field of narrative studies has continued to evolve, our submissions and submitters have become more diverse: in addition to work on the novel in English, we receive essays on film, nonfiction narrative, fictional narrative before the rise of the novel, performance, art history, and other topics. And we receive essays from across the globe—from China, Australia, and various countries in Europe. The essays in this issue clearly reflect these changes in the pattern of submissions. Three of the six essays are by scholars located in continents other than North America; three are not at all concerned with the novel in English, and the three that discuss such novels turn to them as sites for the exploration of theoretical issues rather than as the generative forces for their inquiries.

Lisa Trahair, located at the University of New South Wales, Australia, offers an engaging essay on the films of Buster Keaton that also considers how Keaton's practice sheds light on the relation between the artistic demands of slapstick and those of narrative. Regina Schneider, located at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, examines the formal shift in Jorge de Montemayor's 1559 text, SieteLibros de la Diana, from pastoral to romance, an examination that sheds new light both on the Diana and on those forms. Dan Shen, located at the University of Beijing, China, turns to examples from across the range of the Western tradition (Sophocles to Beckett) as well as to an example of translation from the classic Chinese novel A Dream of Red Mansions in her nuanced account of the powers and limits of the distinction between story and discourse. [End Page 193]

The essays from American scholars are similarly diverse. N. Leacock, located at the University of California, Irvine, carefully analyzes both Goethe's Die Wahlverwandtschaften [The Elective Affinities] and Walter Benjamin's account of that novel in a way that brings new illumination to each. Martin FitzPatrick, of the University of Maryland, examines the phenomenon of what he calls subjunctive narration, that is, discourse about events whose existence is less than definite, and uses examples from twentieth-century American fiction (Pynchon, Faulkner, Morrison, and O'Brien) to illustrate the range and effects of the technique. Finally, Genie Babb, of the University of Alaska, Anchorage, advances a suggestive case for attending to the corporeality of fictional characters and demonstrates the difference such attention makes through her analysis of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Ebb-Tide.

The changes in the patterns of submission—and publication—do not mean that Narrative is an inhospitable destination for essays that place the novel in English at their center, but they do mean that such essays are now one among the several kinds we publish. I believe that the diversity of our submissions reflects the diversity of our readers, and in that diversity I find great strength. It is my hope that we continue to diversify over the next ten years, and it is my belief, based on the experience of the last ten years, that we will do so, though not in ways that anyone can fully predict at this point.


James Phelan



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pp. 193-194
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