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ence, as illustrated respectively by Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Southey's Life of Nelson, or Hawthorne's Ambitious Guest. And in the second part of the definitions, the various terms “chronological order," "orderly recital," and "series" show again that time is an ultimate element, essential in that it determines the very order of the constituent parts. As logical relations underlie argumentative composition, and as spatial relations often are essential to expository composition, so the various considerations that arise in connection with narration depend fundamentally upon the time-element.

In illustration of what has been presented with reference to the definition of narration let us examine rather analytically two or three examples. The first is taken quite at random from a daily paper.


Middletown, Del., July 11. Imagining he saw the headlight of another engine coming toward him, Randolph A. Wheeler, a Delaware railroad engineer, driving a freight train, clapped on the brakes and leaped from the cab. Startled by the sudden action of the engineer, the fireman, without looking for the danger, also threw himself from the engine. The train came to a standstill and the conductor was surprised to find the enginecab deserted. The dead engineer and the injured fireman were then found lying along the track.

Here, to apply the terminology used in the definition quoted from the Standard Dictionary, we have (a) the

occurrence,” which we may perhaps entitle “The tragic death of Randolph A. Wheeler," and which we may view as but part of a larger temporal whole, “The life of Randolph A. Wheeler”; or, from another point of view, "The events of July 11.” More than this “occurrence,” we have also (b) the “particulars of the occurrence arranged in chronological order,” viz.: (1) the fancied vision of the approaching engine; (2) the clapping on of the brakes; (3) the leap from the cab; (4) the fireman's fright; (5) the sudden stopping of the train; (6) the conductor's amazement at finding the cab deserted; (7) the discovery of the dead engineer and the injured fireman.

The same fundamental elements are equally evident in more extended narrative writing; the short-story, for example, as illustrated in Maupassant's Necklace. In this case, applying the terms of the second definition, that from the Century Dictionary, we discover the “transaction” or “event," in the episode indicated by the title, — the loss and restoration of the diamond necklace. The "details" and "particulars” presented in "orderly recital" appear in the various items of the story itself, as contained in the sections into which it is usually subdivided. They may be indicated by the following titles:


I. Madame Loisel's Discontent.
II. The Invitation to the Ministerial Ball.
III. The Loan of the Necklace.
IV. The Loss.

V. The Restitution.
VI. The Ten Years' Struggle.
VII. Revelation.

Again, we may discover the same underlying elements in the most elaborate forms of narrative literature, the novel, for example. If we examine George Eliot's Silas Marner in the light of Professor Genung's definition, we may say that the story in its entirety concerns a “transaction," which we may entitle “The regeneration of Silas Marner, the weaver of Raveloe,” a complete episode occurring within the broader circle of

‘rustic England in the previous century.” Furthermore, the story consists in “recounting in succession the particulars that together make up this transaction,” — such particulars, — to mention but a few out of many, - as (a) Marner's life at Lantern Yard; (b) his removal to Raveloe; (c) his miserly isolation; (d) the theft of his gold; (e) the entrance of Eppie into his life; (f) his love and care for the child; (g) Eppie’s rejection of her father; (h) Marner's closing years.

Thus in all forms of what may be calleď narrative composition, ultimate analysis reveals these two fundamental elements, — the unified, single occurrence, and the constituent details arranged in due order.

In view of the foregoing considerations, it is interesting to observe how, at the outset, in the very terms of the definition, we are confronted with the two important rhetorical considerations, unity and coherence, considerations always important, but from its very character peculiarly essential to narrative writing. Later in the discussion they will be viewed at greater length; at this point, however, they may receive general consideration.

In the term “occurrence or “event,” the idea of unity is implied; that is, of oneness, of subordination of details to one central idea. And in the ordering of the constituent “particulars in their chronological succession" lies the core idea of coherence; that is, of marshaling parts so as to attain culmination.

If the writer has in mind no clearly defined central theme, no definite "event," his narrative will be characterized by indefiniteness, by seemingly unrelated

digressions, by apparent want of purpose. And, on the other hand, carelessness in ordering the constituent details so that the due relation of parts is not well defined results in looseness and a general tone of carelessness. The reader's attention is led far afield, and the story makes for no distinct climax.

The indefiniteness resulting from failure to observe the first essential is illustrated in George Eliot's Middlemarch, in which the simultaneous existence of at least three sets of characters leaves the reader in considerable doubt as to just what constitutes the main theme. For a similar reason some readers are offended with De Morgan's Alice-for-Short: they cannot distinguish the unified idea with which the author is dealing. A narrative like Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter, however, or a successful biography like The Life of Alice Freeman Palmer has a motive so distinct that essential unity of composition is evident from the outset.

The looseness of narrative structure that results from inattention to the detail of coherence is well exemplified in many

of Dickens's works. More than one reader of Bleak House has speedily become so involved in attempting to follow the varying fortunes of the celebrated chancery case, the adventures of Jo, of Lady Dedlock, of Mr. Skimpole, of the Snagsbys, the Jellybys, and the Smallweeds, that he has given up in despair the hopeless task of ever freeing himself from the tangle. On the contrary, the directness with which the successive details of Treasure Island or of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes make for their goal illustrates the effectiveness that comes from orderly arrangement well sustained. History, when well written, offers good evidence of how much is gained by narrative coherence properly observed, for in this form of composition chronological order is supplemented by the exposition of cause and effect; the historian shows wherein the events of one period are but the logical consequences of those that have preceded. Saintsbury refers to this principle when he writes of Gibbon that he ordered his matter so effectively that the result is no mere congeries of unrelated fact but a "regular structure of history, informed and governed throughout by a philosophic idea.” Similarly in histories of English literature the writer, in grouping his discussion under various "periods," is unconsciously marshaling the various details into the proper array to render effective his narrative treatment. In this case, as in the case of the historian, he not only shows the chronological sequence of the Elizabethan, Puritan, Restoration, and Eighteenth Century eras, but he makes his sequence more effective by showing that one stage of literary activity prepares the way for its successor and merges

into it without jar or interruption. All this somewhat critical consideration is reducible to a proper regard for the second requirement that we have found inherent in the very definition of narration.



I. Narration and Exposition In the light of the definitions already presented, it will appear that narration differs essentially from exposition, or the setting forth of a term, the meaning or application of which may not be clear. In the one case we are concerned with the temporal relations of one part to another, with the sequence of event after event; in the other, with logical relations, cause and effect, signification or extent of terms, — with the process of elucida

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