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Title: Forms, effects and functions of flash-presentations with special reference to "The Constant Gardener" by John le Carré
Author: Rong, Rong
Awarding Body: Lancaster University
Current Institution: Lancaster University
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis investigates the forms and functions of flash-presentations, particularly flashbacks, in John le Carre's (2001) novel The Constant Gardener and in its film by Fernando Meirelles (2005). The concept of distorting the chronological order of events to 'travel back' in time to see what happened in the past, originates from written literature. Traditionally, temporal backshift has been discussed by narratologists under the term anaiepsis, initially introduced by Genette (1980: 40). In many cases, analepsis has been treated as a synonym of flashback, a narrative technique originally adopted in the filmmaking industry and applied by critics in relation to films. I argue, however, that these two terms do not refer to exactly the same concept. Whereas Genette's term, analepsis, refers to the general notion of backward temporality, regardless of how they are presented textually, flashback is concerned mainly with the vivid and 'flashy' realisation of this temporal backshift in the narrative. To demonstrate this I begin with an examination of Genette's concept of analepsis and a consideration of its relation with flashback. I suggest that what contributes to the effect of flashiness includes (1) how abrupt the current context switches to the new spatio-temporal domain, (2) how specific the new context is depicted, and (3) how dramatised the events in the new context is presented. To account for the processes by which readers come to the identification of a flashback, I adopt a cognitive approach, based on deictic shift theory and contextual frame theory, to examine exactly how readers/viewers arrive at the identification of a flashback in the narrative. Additionally, narrative often involves other types of shifts that are not necessarily temporal backshift. These include (a) temporal forward-shift, and (b) a spatial shift without any temporal alternation. Based on this, I move on to consider another two types of flashes that are less common than flashback, namely flashforward and flash-sideways. I then bring together the techniques discussed in the thesis in an extended analysis of the flashes of The Constant Gardener. I begin with the film and then move to the novel, to examine the similarities and differences in how a flashback is established in novel and film. Finally, I suggest that detailed stylistic analysis and a cognitive approach, such as demonstrated in this thesis, could lead to a better understanding of temporal/spatial shifts in literature and film in general.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available