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Aggressive FictionsReading the Contemporary American Novel$
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Kathryn Hume

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450013

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450013.001.0001

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Narrative Speed in Contemporary Fiction

Narrative Speed in Contemporary Fiction

(p.14) 1 Narrative Speed in Contemporary Fiction
Aggressive Fictions

Kathryn Hume

Cornell University Press

This chapter maps the ways that narrative speed functions, focusing specifically on a sense of a narrative accelerating beyond some safe “comprehension-limit.” In short, the chapter seeks to identify the main techniques that produce this effect and to study the evident authorial goals fostered by such narrative rapidity. It thus begins by discussing three techniques for producing the effect of narrative speed: multiplying elements, subtracting expected material, and rendering actions fantastic. After discussing technique, the chapter considers the kind of effect encouraged by speed: satire, mystery, protest, exaltation, revolution. In addition to seeing how narrative speed is generated, the chapter also looks at the politics of narrative speed and the implications of this.

Keywords:   narrative speed, narrative speed techniques, effects of narrative speed, politics of narrative speed, authorial goals

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