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The UnexpectedNarrative Temporality and the Philosophy of Surprise$
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Mark Currie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676293

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676293.001.0001

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Maximum Peripeteia: Reversal of Fortune and the Rhetoric of Temporal Doubling

Maximum Peripeteia: Reversal of Fortune and the Rhetoric of Temporal Doubling

(p.127) Chapter 8 Maximum Peripeteia: Reversal of Fortune and the Rhetoric of Temporal Doubling
The Unexpected

Mark Currie

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter is an analysis of a particular surprise in Sarah Water's novel Fingersmith. It argues takes up the project from the previous chapter for a description of narrative surprise in terms of the perspectival structures of narrative, and aims to show that novels in particular always stage the difference perspective during and perspective after reading. It analyses the tense structure of the novel and demonstrates that the combination of these two perspectives is allegorised in the relationship between the novel's two main characters. The analysis takes direction from Wayne Booth's idea that novels always involve a trade-off between mystery and suspense, and develops it in relation to Frank Kermode's proposition that peripeteia is the equivalent, in narrative, of irony in rhetoric. It then explores the formulation of this tension in Paul de Man's essay ‘The Rhetoric of Temporality’, which makes a similar case for the difference and yet inseparability of two conceptions of time which manifests in narrative doubling, and produces effects of self-commentary in narrative fiction.

Keywords:   Sarah Waters, perspective, tense, peripeteia, doubling, irony

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