The return of the storyteller in contemporary literature
This thesis sets out to identify a growing interest in storytelling in contemporary literature, which I argue is reflected in the return of the figure of the storyteller. This interest in storytelling and stories seems to be inter-disciplinary and is reflected not only in literary critical discourses such as postmodernism and the postcolonialist interest in oral traditions, but also in arc as such as cognitive and evolutionary science, which have presented stories as necessary for survival. However, despite this, the role of the storyteller has been relatively neglected in literary criticism and theory, a neglect that may have arisen in part because of the recent preoccupation with writing and textuality, which has led criticism to focus debates on the figure of the author. This thesis sets out to address this omission. The role of the storyteller in contemporary Western fiction is еxplored alongside some examples of postcolonial and hybrid fictions. I draw largely on methodologies from narrative and postmodernist theory, and investigate the preoccupation of the storyteller through a reading of six contemporary authors chosen as a representative sample of contemporary fiction today. These are: Jim Crace, Mario Vargas Llosa, Salman Rushdie, John Barth, A.S. Byatt and J M. Coetzee. Through the close reading of a selection of their novels, I reveal how the storyteller, and the art of storytelling, are genuine preoccupations in their works. Moreover, I show how, through their employment and problematisation of the figure of the storyteller, these writers all raise questions about the role and value of fiction and real authors. Surprisingly, the infamous 'death of the author' has produced a rebirth of the storyteller. The storyteller has returned and provides us with some new and useful tools with which to re-map the territories of contemporary fiction.