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Defining Greek Narrative$
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Douglas Cairns and Ruth Scodel

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748680108

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.001.0001

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The Anonymous Traveller in European Literature: A Greek Meme?

The Anonymous Traveller in European Literature: A Greek Meme?

Chapter:
(p.314) 16 The Anonymous Traveller in European Literature: A Greek Meme?
Source:
Defining Greek Narrative
Author(s):

Irene J. F. de Jong

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680108.003.0016

The anonymous traveller, a subtype of the anonymous focalizer, is a device used in modern fiction. His minimal form is the dative participle ('for someone sailing from the Propontis, there is on the left side’), but in Flaubert and Stendhal the anonymous ‘one’ focalizes extended descriptions. He is often, though not always, hypothetical ('someone who saw this would think’). Although the anonymous traveller resembles the hypothetical ‘you', he is formally distinct. The anonymous traveller first appears in Homer and is found in a variety of authors, including Isocrates and Plato, but does not seem to be a device of non-Western literature. It is helpful to think of the anonymous traveller as a literary meme, cultural units transmitted by imitation, without conscious borrowing.

Keywords:   Meme, Flaubert, Stendhal, Homer, Isocrates, Plato, Anonymous Focalizer, Hypothetical Focalizer

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