Narratives can be deliberately untruthful. Whether the author can or should be accused of lying, however, depends not only on how one defines a lie, but also on the status ascribed to narration itself: How do the truth claims of fictional utterances in literary texts differ from those of factual storytelling? Can fiction lie?
Proceeding from an analysis of Genette’s work on paratexts, Eva-Maria Konrad suggests that authorial prefaces in literary texts should not be regarded as fictional utterances on principle – under certain conditions, Konrad claims, even editorial fictions can be considered lies. Jochen Mecke, by contrast, argues that fiction can never lie, as any ascription of truthfulness to literary texts is based on that contract between readers and authors which Samuel Taylor Coleridge has called the “willing suspension of disbelief”. According to Mecke, the decisive factor is not the fictive nature of narrated events, but the fictionality of the narrating instance.
In her contribution to unreliable and perturbatory narration in Argentinian cinema, Sabine Schlickers explores the emergence of ambiguity – contemporary films often make it difficult for viewers to ascribe unambiguous intentions, such as irony, play or lies, to implicit authors. The fourth article in this issue by Tanja Serisier is dedicated to the contentious issue of trustworthiness in rape narratives. Serisier discusses the differences between legal definitions of truth on the one hand, and subjective, experiential notions of truth on the other.
This issue’s “My Narratology” section offers an interview with Ansgar Nünning, whose work on historical, contextual and cultural narratology makes a significant contribution to the development of postclassical narrative research. A featured article on the Gdańsk Narratology Group by Marta Aleksandrowicz, Bartosz Lutostański, and Miłosz Wojtyna, a conference report on the the International Symposium “Relevance and Narrative (Research)” at Wuppertal University (30th September – 2nd October 2014) and four book reviews complete this issue.
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