Dissonant and consonant narrators : Dorrit Cohn's concepts, narratorial Stance theory and cognitive literary studies

Title: Dissonant and consonant narrators : Dorrit Cohn's concepts, narratorial Stance theory and cognitive literary studies
Source document: Brno studies in English. 2022, vol. 48, iss. 2, pp. 189-206
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
Our paper reconsiders the notions of dissonance and consonance introduced in Dorrit Cohn's Transparent Minds (1978). Cohn applies the terms to psycho- and self-narration and defines them with reference to the narrator's prominence, distance/intimacy as well as moral and cognitive privilege with reference to the character. Taking advantage of stance theory, we argue that dissonance and consonance are best taken as dimensions of the narrator's attitude towards the character and/or the narratee, we relate aspects of consonance/dissonance to the basic facets of focalization – emotional, interpretive, and evaluative – and we analyze them in terms of convergence or divergence and further, in the case of divergence, in terms of superiority or inferiority. We claim that there is no automatic correlation between narratorial consonance/dissonance and reliability. Overall, we believe that narratorial consonance/dissonance deserves much attention because it has great impact on the reader's reception of the narrator and characters.
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