Mieke Bal on Character, Dialectic, and Open-Minded Analysis

Mieke Bal summarizing the exposition of the nature of character as viewed by narratology:

Repetition, accumulation, relations to other characters, and transformations are four different principles that work together to construct the image of a character. Their effect can only be described, however, when the outline of the character has been roughly filled in. This is a constant element in narratological analysis: a dialectic back-and-forth between speculation and verification through open-minded analysis.

from Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 4th edition, page 114.

The passage and its keyword “dialectic” popped out at me when I recalled José Angel García Landa’s remarks about the relation between noesis and poesis.

2 Replies to “Mieke Bal on Character, Dialectic, and Open-Minded Analysis”

  1. On the process of reading characters and ‘structuring’ them as you read on and as they keep evolving, I love, too, Philippe Hamon’s paper “Pour un statut sémiologique du personnage” (1977).

  2. Interesting that Hamon crops up in this context. Mieke Bal goes on later in the book to acknowledge Hamon:

    An important book article by Hamon [Le personnel du roman] (1983), from which I have borrowed a great deal in this chapter, deals with characters. Hamon treats the most important aspects of the characters and places them in a semiotic framework. His division of the characters into signifier and signified I find a bit problematic.

    She doesn't elaborate. And so a rabbit hole opens…

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