School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    The search for a narrative truth; a study of the reader as creative thinker
    Jones, Thomas Kenneth ( 2010)
    The creative component of this thesis, entitled ‘The Eagle Scouts of America’ is the beginning of a novel centred on a political scandal in 1970’s America. The narrator seems eminently reliable. He is unabashed in his telling of lies and plans to lie and manipulate, to the extent that the reader is inclined to believe and trust him. However, while the reader becomes guilty in participating in the deception, it does not occur to the reader that the narrator may be lying or manipulating them as well. Restrictions on the length of this thesis means only the first five chapters of the novel have been included. The theory component is a study of the features of unreliable narration and how readers need to respond to gain the most enjoyment and insight that this form of narrative has to offer. I suggest that, when the truth does not exist within the narrative itself, the reader is encouraged to think creatively and develop their own reader based narrative truth. Upon starting a new novel, which contains a first person narrator, the reader begins with the expectation, that the narrator will be truthful and accurate in their account. When this expectation is not fulfilled, the reader’s experience of the text and his or her role in relation to the text are reformed, not only permitting but requiring of the reader an engagement in creative thinking about the narrative. With specific reference to Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov and The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester, I look at the ways a reader can use what is contained in the unreliable narrative to determine for him/herself an understanding of the truth.