Universal Grammar and Narrative Form

Universal Grammar and Narrative Form

Sound and Meaning: The Roman Jakobson Series in Linguistics and Poetics

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Book Pages: 296 Illustrations: Published: September 1995

Author: David Herman

Linguistics, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Theory and Philosophy

In a major rethinking of the functions, methods, and aims of narrative poetics, David Herman exposes important links between modernist and postmodernist literary experimentation and contemporary language theory. Ultimately a search for new tools for narrative theory, his work clarifies complex connections between science and art, theory and culture, and philosophical analysis and narrative discourse.
Following an extensive historical overview of theories about universal grammar, Herman examines Joyce’s Ulysses, Kafka’s The Trial, and Woolf’s Between the Acts as case studies of modernist literary narratives that encode grammatical principles which were (re)fashioned in logic, linguistics, and philosophy during the same period. Herman then uses the interpretation of universal grammar developed via these modernist texts to explore later twentieth-century cultural phenomena. The problem of citation in the discourses of postmodernism, for example, is discussed with reference to syntactic theory. An analysis of Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover raises the question of cinematic meaning and draws on semantic theory. In each case, Herman shows how postmodern narratives encode ideas at work in current theories about the nature and function of language.
Outlining new directions for the study of language in literature, Universal Grammar and Narrative Form provides a wealth of information about key literary, linguistic, and philosophical trends in the twentieth century.


“This ambitious [book] mobilizes an impressive array of theoretical sources toward the analysis of narrative discourse: linguistics, logic, philosophy (especially phenomenology), structuralism, and even psychoanalysis and deconstruction.” — Marie-Laure Ryan, Style

"This book will reward the serious reader and will find an honorable place amidst all those who are trying to find a way out of the abnormal science that literary theory has become in the last twenty years." — Michael Holquist, Yale University


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Price: $26.95

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