The Story of the Unborn: Fetal Narrators in Pascal Bruckner, Chinghiz Aitmatov, and Ian McEwan's Novels

The Story of the Unborn: Fetal Narrators in Pascal Bruckner, Chinghiz Aitmatov, and Ian McEwan's Novels

Marta Teodora Boboc
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6605-3.ch017
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This chapter focuses on a relatively new kind of narrative, concerning storytelling from inside the womb as it offers an inner perspective on both outside social matters and on the first stage of life as well. The author of the given chapter aims to explore the specific features of such a narrative, by comparing the novels of three writers, Pascal Bruckner, Chinghiz Aitmatov, and Ian McEwan, that belong to three different cultural spaces, French, Kyrgyz, and English. The basic elements of a story (plot, setting, characters, point of view, theme, symbolism, conflict, and resolution) are taken into account and their contrastive analysis is meant to reveal some key concepts that define an innovative way to approach literature.
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Background: Essential Theoretical Concepts

In terms of narrative techniques, two essential items are the point of view and the narrative mode.

The point of view (in its broad sense, as Jaap Lintvelt mentions) or the angle of vision (as Wayne Booth calls it) refers to the narrative perspective from which events are reported. Its particularly important role is revealed by Lintvelt (1994) in whose opinion “firm control over narrative perspective, as well as its motivation, ensures that the given literary work is not only coherent, but also deeply credible, a fact that intensifies the illusion of reality” (p. 5) and supported by Mark Schorer (1968), who notes that narrative perspective and its modus operandi “allow the writer to explore and develop a topic, to convey its meanings, and eventually, to assess them” (p. 39).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Setting: A term with a broad meaning, used to describe the whole frame in which the action of the literary work takes place. It does not refer simply to the tangible background of the writing, as it also encompasses cultural and historical context.

Fetal Personhood: The status of a fetus as a person, that encompasses its behavioral characteristics, its development, and social rights.

Deuteragonist: The second important character in a literary work, that stands next to the Protagonist (or the main character), either as his friend and sidekick or, at times, as an opposing figure.

Heterotopia: A term Foucault borrowed from medicine and used in literature in order to define a space where a certain moral or social crisis takes place.

Narrative Vision: A notion that deals with the relation between narrator and characters. For instance, vision from behind, if the narrator knows and says more than any of the characters know.

(Pseudo)-Bildungsroman: A type of fictional novel that focuses on psychological characteristics and moral beliefs of a fetus, as well as on its development in utero .

X-Fetus: Introduced in literature by Aitmatov, this describes a new kind of fetus, that was supposed to be free of all family or social bonds, to be raised and educated in special institutes, in order to make it a skilled, well trained and obedient citizen.

Narrative Mode: A method or technique that an author resorts to in writing a literary work. It usually refers to two different approaches—presentation (that focuses on telling and on a panoramic view) and representation (that focuses on showing and a rather scenic view).

Cassandro-Embryo: A term that denominates a fetus who is afraid to be born, mainly due to its intuitive skills and because it is able to perceive the social turmoil. First introduced in literature by Russian writer of Kyrgyz origin Aitmatov.

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