Aspect, temporal ordering and perspective in narrative fiction
Throughout the reading process, a narrative text produces various sensations of immediacy or distance. One important reason for this is that a narrative will in some places present situtations from a particular perspective, with which the reader is implicitly invited to identify, while in other places it will describe situations as independent of any perspective. If a perspective (that of the narrator, or that of a character in the text) is introduced, the narrative reflects an individual's (potentially fallible) perceptions, attitudes or beliefs; and this creates the impression of perspectival immediacy. If no perspective is introduced, on the other hand, the narrative pretends to relate "objective facts" within the fiction; and this creates the impression of perspectival distance. Thus the contrast between perepectivally situated and perepectivally non-situated sentences in a narrative produces perspectival refractions. The difference between both types of sentences, however, is often felt to be recalcitrant to a full linguistic analysis. For example, it is generally assumed that the perspectival status of a sentence is determined by the presence or absence of aubject-oriented elements in the sentence. But although such elements play an important role in focusing perspective, they need not occur in a sentence for the sentence to be perspectivally situated. In Chapter 1 of this dissertation, we draw attention to an observation which has received very little attention in the existing literature on perspective: per pectivally non-situated sentences typically move narrative time forward (in the sense that the order of the sentences on the page mimics temporal progression on the imaginary time line of the narrative), while perspectivally situated sentences do not convey forward movement in time. In other words, there appears to be a relationship between temporal ordering and perspective. Our aim is to specify the precise nature of this relationship. To do so, we first of all try to establish what determines the temporal relationship between consecutive sentences in narrative. We take as the starting point for our discussion some recent theories in the field of formal semantics which define this relationship in terms of the aspectual type a sentence belongs to. In Chapter 2, we explore to what extent these theories enable us to explain the apparent correlation between temporal ordering and perspective in narrative texts. In Chapters 3-5, we propose a detailed analysis of the relationship between the aspectual properties of sentences and their perspectival characteristics. Our central claim is that sentences exhibiting a state profile always introduce a perspective into a narrative. We try to make explicit why this is the case. In Chapter 6, the conclusions of this analysis are integrated into a more general theory of perspective in narrative fiction.