May. 30th, 2016

helloladies: Gray icon with a horseshoe open side facing down with pink text underneath that says Guest Post (guest post)
[personal profile] helloladies
Today we have a delightful guest visiting us from elsewhere on the internet! We are excited to welcome Jenny from Reading the End to Lady Business to share several bits of cool knowledge about Unreliable Narrators. Check out her excellent words below!

Whilst planning this article, people variously told me that unreliable narrators are cheap show-offy authorial tricksiness, that nobody has time to spend worrying whether their own narrator knows what's up, and WHY WOULD I READ A BOOK THAT'S JUST GOING TO LIE TO ME? (My podcast co-host, Whiskey Jenny, very much does not like being lied to.)

It's also a slippery, wobbly sort of trope to pin down. Do we include the protagonist of Emma as an unreliable narrator, since her unflinching belief in her intelligence and rightness blind her to what's happening right in front of her? (I vote no.) What about the protagonist of Karen Joy Fowler's excellent We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, who tells us the exact truth but withholds a single, vital detail until about a third of the way through the book? (Again, and very controversially at my family's Sunday breakfast, no.)

And what differentiates an unreliable narrator from one who's simply wrong? We're asked to place the worst possible interpretation on Laurent's behavior throughout the first Captive Prince book, because we're seeing him through Damen's eyes, but that ends up being because Damen, like us, is simply not in possession of a full set of facts. So in the end, that's what I decided made the difference. To count as an unreliable narrator, in the super-scientific taxonomy I am about to unveil, the narrator must have the facts available to them, and their narration must convey to the reader a skewed, limited, or biased version of those facts.

("But Jenny, doesn't We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves count under that metric?" You hush. It's only that one single secret she doesn't tell right away. Who's the captain of this taxonomy schooner anyway?)

Here's the taxonomy in a nutshell: Unreliable narrators are being unreliable either consciously or unconsciously. The facts and events about which they are unreliable are either decipherable by the reader or they are not. This creates four lovely quadrants of unreliable narrators, and if I were mathematically minded I'd make a fabulous interactive graph for you. Since I am not you will have to make do with words. Read more... )


Lady Business welcome badge

Pitch Us!
Review Policy
Comment Policy
Writers We Like!
Contact Us

tumblr icon twitter icon syndication icon

image asking viewer to support Lady Business on Patreon

Who We Are

Ira is an illustrator and gamer who decided that disagreeing with everyone would be a good way to spend their time on the internet. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

By day Jodie is currently living the dream as a bookseller for a major British chain of book shops. She has no desire to go back to working in the real world. more? » tumblr icon icon

KJ KJ is an underemployed librarian, lifelong reader, and more recently an avid gamer. more? » twitter icon tumblr icon AO3 icon

Renay writes for Lady Business and co-hosts Fangirl Happy Hour, a pop culture media show that includes a lot yelling about the love lives of fictional characters. Enjoys puns. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon tumblr icon

Susan is a library assistant who uses her insider access to keep her shelves and to-read list permanently over-flowing. more? » twitter icon pinboard icon AO3 icon


Book Review Index
Film Review Index
Television Review Index
Game Review Index
Non-Review Index
We Want It!
Fanwork Recs
all content by tags

Our Projects

hugo award recs

Criticism & Debate

Indeed, we do have a comment policy.

What's with your subtitle?

It's a riff off an extremely obscure meme only Tom Hardy and Myspace fans will appreciate.

hugo award winner
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios