Rhetorical aesthetics and other issues in the study of literary narrative

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The current study of literary narrative is a vibrant and various activity, marked not by a single orthodoxy but by multiple approaches. Within that variety there are five especially salient issues currently being investigated: nonmimetic narrative; digital narrative; the fact/fiction distinction; narrative space; and rhetorical aesthetics. Rhetorical aesthetics moves not toward a universal standards of literary quality but toward an understanding of how narratives work on their own terms and of appropriate general criteria for judging those terms. These criteria, as a comparison of the endings of Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep and Howard Hawks’s adaptation of the novel to film suggests, typically are not purely aesthetic but involve the interrelation of form, ethics, and aesthetics.


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