Narrative across Versions. Narratology meets Genetic Criticism

Lars Bernaerts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


What can narrative theory and analysis learn from the study of sketches, notes, and manuscripts? Leading narratologists, such as Franz Stanzel, Dorrit Cohn, and Gérard Genette, have visited the factory of the text, as Genette calls it, in order to corroborate an argument about the nature of narrative in general or the composition of a particular narrative. However, these excursions have not led to a principled dialogue between genetic criticism and narrative theory. By following major narratologists on their path to versions of narratives, this essay investigates the possibilities of combining narrative theory and narratological analysis on the one hand with manuscript studies and genetic criticism on the other hand. To specify our claims about this interdisciplinary combination of approaches, i.e. the study of narrative across versions, we analyse two works that challenge narrative conventions, "Lessness" and The Unnamable by Samuel Beckett. This two-part case study focuses respectively on the levels of "narrative" and "narration," and shows how, on the one hand, genetic criticism can provide us with data to corroborate a narratological analysis, and how, on the other hand, narratology serves as an aid to the genetic examination of the narrative's development across versions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-326
Number of pages46
JournalPoetics Today
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • narratology
  • genetic criticism
  • manuscript studies
  • literary theory

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