Reference Entry

focalization

Edited by Dinah Birch and Katy Hooper

in The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature

Fourth edition

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199608218
Published online May 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744556
focalization

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The technical term in modern *narratology for the adoption of a limited ‘point of view’ from which the events of a given story are witnessed, usually by a character within the fictional world. Unlike the ‘omniscient’ perspective of traditional stories, which in principle allows the narrator privileged insight into all characters' secret motives and the ability to recount simultaneous events in different places, a focalized narrative constrains its perspective within the limited awareness available to a particular witness, to whom the thoughts of other characters remain opaque. As seeing differs from telling, such a focalizing observer is not necessarily the narrator of the story, but may be a character in an account given by a third‐person narrator: this method of using a ‘centre of consciousness’ within the fictional world is associated especially with ...

Reference Entry.  146 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (British and Irish)

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