Thursday, January 30, 2014

A truly omniscient narrator

The end of part four of River of Stars opens a gash in the tale's chronology. All of the chapter is about the climax of Ren's plan to help bring Kitai from the brink of destruction, but parts of it are told with the knowledge that Ren's accomplice, Kang Junwen, retells of that night in his old age.

When it comes to narrators, there's limited, omniscient, and Kay's choice here.

Taking the perspective of a character to reflect on events long past rather than just to report them is something I've never come across before. It's a technique that, in a genre where the narrator is usually just taken for granted as some all-knowing storyteller, calls a lot of attention to the figure who wrote these words, who's telling this story.

Being confronted with this storytelling style is enough to make me consider the narrator more of a "speaker" in the poetic sense. "Speaker" being the term in poetic theory for the entity between a poet and the words that he or she writes.

As per the break with linear chronology that Kang's reminisces make, I take it as a hint that there will be a considerable timeskip at the start of part five.

And, more generally, I get the feeling that the novel will end somewhere in between Kitai's full revival and the complete extinguishing of them from the memory of history. As I head into the book's last part, I expect it will end with things looking up but not yet getting there.

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