“Brian Richardson’s ever-expanding knowledge of world historical literature—ancient and contemporary, arcane and canonical—allows him, seemingly without effort, to put things in a fresh light—a rare pleasure in academic prose.” —H. Porter Abbott
Story, in the largest sense of the term, is arguably the single most important aspect of narrative. But with the proliferation of antimimetic writing, traditional narrative theory has been inadequate for conceptualizing and theorizing a vast body of innovative narratives. In A Poetics of Plot for the Twenty-First Century: Theorizing Unruly Narratives, Brian Richardson proposes a new model for evaluating literature—returning to the basis of narrative theory to illuminate how authors play with and help clarify the boundaries of narrative theory. While he focuses on late modernist, postmodern, and contemporary narratives, the study also includes many earlier works, spanning from Aristophanes and Shakespeare through James Joyce and Virginia Woolf to Salman Rushdie and Angela Carter.
By exploring fundamental questions about narrative, Richardson provides a detailed, nuanced, and comprehensive theory that includes neglected categories of storytelling and significantly enhances our treatment of traditional areas of analysis. Ultimately, this book promises to transform and expand the study of story and plot.
Brian Richardson is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Maryland, College Park, and author of Unnatural Narrative: Theory, History, and Practice (OSU Press, 2015).
Introduction Mimetic and Antimimetic Narrative Dynamics
Chapter 1 Narrative, the Nonnarrative, and the Unnarratable
Chapter 2 Modeling Narrative Beginnings
Chapter 3 Narrative Middles I: Plot, Probability, and Tellability
Chapter 4 Narrative Middles II: Non Plot-Based Narrative Progressions
Chapter 5 The Varieties of Narrative Time
Chapter 6 Adventures of the Book: Fabricating Fabula and Syuzhet
Chapter 7 Narrative Endings: Fixed, Unfixed, Illusory, and Unnatural
Conclusion Narrative Theory and the Poetics of Story and Plot
Theory, History, and Practic
Core Concepts and Critical Debates
David Herman, James Phelan, Peter J. Rabinowitz, Brian Richardson, and Robyn Warhol
A Poetics of Unnatural Narrative
Edited by Jan Alber, Henrik Skov Nielsen, and Brian Richardson