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The Spatial Dimension of Narrative Understanding.
Exploring Plot Types in the Narratives of Alessandro Baricco, Andrea Camilleri and Italo Calvino

BELTRAMI, MARZIA (2017) The Spatial Dimension of Narrative Understanding.
Exploring Plot Types in the Narratives of Alessandro Baricco, Andrea Camilleri and Italo Calvino.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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The thesis explores the hypothesis that some plots might rely on spatiality as an organising principle that impacts on the narrative structure and, consequently, on the strategies adopted by readers to understand them. In order to lay the grounding for a spatially-oriented approach to narrative understanding, this study pursues both a theoretical line of inquiry and an applied line of inquiry in literary criticism. A cognitive stance on the nature of thought as non-propositional (Johnson-Laird 1983) and of the mind as embodied (Lakoff and Johnson 1999; Varela et al. 1993) provides the theoretical point of departure for the subsequent identification of a range of principles and frameworks that can be implemented to support a spatially-oriented interpretation according to the specificities of narratives. The three case studies provided by Alessandro Baricco’s City, Andrea Camilleri’s Montalbano crime series, and Italo Calvino’s Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore illustrate how a spatially-oriented perspective can add new interpretive angles and an unprecedented insight into the ways narratives achieve a coherent structure. At the same time, the case studies serve to extrapolate a set of features that constitute the preliminary criteria for assessing whether it would be fruitful to apply a spatially-oriented approach to a specific narrative. Baricco’s, Camilleri’s and Calvino’s works represent three plot types in which spatiality impinges in three different ways on the narrative, which, as I will show, can be epitomised by the image schemata of map, trajectory, and fractal. Far from simply referring to objects which plot is compared to, these images indicate procedural techniques and strategies of sense-making that a certain type of narrative is designed to prompt in the reader through textual cues. The study, in fact, builds on and advances a notion of plot to be analysed as a process rather than a given structure, something that readers understand as they read, and not retrospectively only.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Italian studies - Cognitive narratology - Cognitive literary criticism - Plot - Spatiality - Alessandro Baricco - Andrea Camilleri - Crime fiction - Italo Calvino
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Modern Languages and Cultures, School of
Thesis Date:2017
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Jul 2017 13:51

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