‘Never trust the artist. Trust the tale.'(DHLawrence)
Narrators can be slippery creatures. Here are just a few reasons why the narraor may be unreliable:
1) deceitfulness or obfuscation
7) Remembrance difficult(age, grief, editing)
And below are some famous examples of UNRELIABLE NARRATORS!
Are the ghosts real or the imaginings of the narrator’s profoundly disturbed mind? Can we separate tale from teller as we are invited to ‘turn the screw’ of interpretation? Do we fear for the governess or do we fear the governess herself? !
YOU don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. (Mark Twain Huckelberry Finn)
A gorgeously meandering, ‘innocent’ take on story telling. As distracting as the Mississippi itself!
Agatha Christie – The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd
CHAPTER 1 Dr Sheppard at the Breakfast Table
Mrs Ferrars died on the night of the 16th17th September – a Thursday. I was sent for at eight o’clock on the morning of Friday the 17th. There was nothing to be done. She had been dead some hours. It was just a few minutes after nine when I reached home once more. I opened the front door with my latchkey, and purposely delayed a few moments in the hall, hanging up my hat and the light overcoat that I had deemed a wise precaution against the chill of an early autumn morning. To tell the truth, I was considerably upset and worried. I am not going to pretend that at that moment I foresaw the events of the next few weeks. I emphatically did not do so.
But my instinct told me that there were stirring times ahead.
From the dining-room on my left there came the rattle of tea-cups and the short, dry cough of my sister Caroline.
‘Is that you, James?’ she called.
What better place to hide one’s crime than behind the protecting veil of the first person narrative voice?
Robert Browning My Last Duchess.
That’s my last Duchess painted on the wall,
Looking as if she were alive. I call
That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands
Worked busily a day, and there she stands.
Will’t please you sit and look at her? I said
“Fra Pandolf” by design, for never read
Strangers like you that pictured countenance,
The depth and passion of its earnest glance,
But to myself they turned (since none puts by
The curtain I have drawn for you, but I)
And seemed as they would ask me, if they durst,
How such a glance came there; so, not the first
Are you to turn and ask thus. Sir, ’twas not
Her husband’s presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek; perhaps
Fra Pandolf chanced to say, “Her mantle laps
Over my lady’s wrist too much,” or “Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat.” Such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er
Super sinister. The Duke’s apparently casual opening callously conceals murder and he is too arrogant to hide his ‘last’ wife’s murder for very long. Who can speak against him and his power?
Gogol: Memoirs of a Madman
October 3rd. — A strange occurrence has taken place today. I got up fairly late, and when Mawra brought me my clean boots, I asked her how late it was. When I heard it had long struck ten, I dressed as quickly as possible.
To tell the truth, I would rather not have gone to the office at all today, for I know beforehand that our department-chief will look as sour as vinegar. For some time past he has been in the habit of saying to me, “Look here, my friend; there is something wrong with your head. You often rush about as though you were possessed. Then you make such confused abstracts of the documents that the devil himself cannot make them out; you write the title without any capital letters, and add neither the date nor the docket-number.” The long-legged scoundrel! He is certainly envious of me, because I sit in the director’s work-room, and mend His Excellency’s pens. In a word, I should not have gone to the office if I had not hoped to meet the accountant, and perhaps squeeze a little advance out of this skinflint.
A terrible man, this accountant! As for his advancing one’s salary once in a way — you might sooner expect the skies to fall. You may beg and beseech him, and be on the very verge of ruin — this grey devil won’t budge an inch. At the same time, his own cook at home, as all the world knows, boxes his ears.
Another world. Gogol’s ‘madman’ steadily declines into pathos ridden chaos, before we hear him taken uncomprehending to a terrible fate in on of Russia’s asylums.
The Woman in Black
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