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Before Reading

Narrative Conventions and the Politics of Interpretation

Peter J. Rabinowitz

Foreword: Before Reading in Its Own Terms, by James Phelan

Part I: Narrative Conventions

  1: Starting Points
    What Is Reading?
    Who Is Reading?
    The Value(s) of Authorial Reading
    The Difficulties of Authorial Reading
    Rules of Reading

  2: Trumpets, Please!: Rules of Notice
    The Hierarchy of Detail
    Basic Gestures of Noticeability
    Privileged Positions
    Rules of Rupture

  3: The Biggest Black Eyes I Ever Saw: Rules of Signification
    Signification Defined
    Rules of Source
    Good Guys and Bad Guys: Rules of Snap Moral Judgment
    Truth and the Narrative Audience: The Rule of Realism
    Post Hoc and Propter Hoc: Rules of Cause

  4: The Black Cloud on the Horizon: Rules of Configuration
    Configuration vs. Coherence
    Basic Rules of Configuration
    Rules of Undermining
    Rules of Balance: Focus
    Rules of Balance: Action

  5: The Austere Simplicity of Fiction: Rules of Coherence
    The Nature of Coherence
    License to Fill
    Rules of Surplus
    Rules of Naming, Bundling, and Thematizing

Part II: The Politics of Interpretation

  6: Through The Glass Key Darkly: Presupposition and Misunderstanding
    Presuppositions and the Ambiguity of Interpretation
    Getting to the Bottom of Things
    Popular Fiction as a Genre
    Scapegoating Carmen: Reading Misreadings

  7: Some Have Greatness Thrust upon Them: The Politics of Canon Formation

Selected Bibliography and Index

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