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The info-narrative

Papia, Daniel Robert (2013) The info-narrative. PhD thesis, Prifysgol Bangor University.

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Abstract

The novel is tenacious. The form continues to offer, as one critic observes, “the most comprehensive reports that humans can deliver, of their private experiences, to other humans.” Though overtaken by film (several decades ago) in terms of popular consumption, and though being tested (at present) by digital presentation and distribution, the novel has proven itself admirably resilient. This no doubt has to do with the fact that the novel is, like the very humans whose experiences it so effectively chronicles, highly adaptable. Effective members of modern Information Age societies must process at least five times the data per day as compared to just a quarter century previous. Not only have sleeker novels evolved to fit the needs of faster lifestyles (i.e. books with more aerodynamic structures, communicating maximal plot in fewer pages), but there has also come into being a type of storytelling within which plot and character have become secondary to the uncomplicated description of facts and information. This new literary subspecies could be called the “info-narrative”. The two best-known authors who have made the “info-narrative” a popular modern phenomenon are considered. Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code broke bestseller records and Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park spawned an almost immediate franchise without precedent. Yet both did so less on the back of memorable stories, characters, and plot twists. This dissertation contends that it is the informative content that serves as the primary attraction, with the stories themselves often little more than delivery devices. The filmed versions of these novels—in themselves info-narratives—are also considered. Their cinematic execution reveals a more focused insight into their core appeal. The Da Vinci Code filmmakers, for example, allowed the forward journey of their supposed action-thriller protagonist to be paused mid-movie for a full 17 minutes so that " 2" he could lecture on, discuss, and debate the history of Mary Magdalene and the Holy Grail. They understood the true attraction of the story, it is argued, so structured their film accordingly. The info-narrative remains imperfect. It is but a point on the trajectory as the novel adapts to its post-modern, information-ravenous, fast-paced readership. Science fiction was born roughly 100 years ago as a then fringe and frequently clumsy combining of creative prose with informative fact. Truman Capote presented 50 years ago what he termed the world’s first “non-fiction novel”, seeking to explain reality using a traditionally fictive form but failing to entirely accomplish the former. Fans of Crichton and Brown appreciate the capacity that these two have to explain complicated subjects in a plain, uncluttered style. When it comes to more creative aspects, however, simplicity ceases to be a virtue. The literary palate craves complexity in plot, character, language, and subtext; yet here today’s info-narrative falls short. Theoretically, there seems no inherent reason that a novel could not entertain and dazzle with true fact, yet at other times offer transcendental moments and poignant passages. Given the info-narrative’s popularity, it is predicted that more literary examples will appear going forward. This dissertation presents an 80,000-word experimental novel, one that endeavors to be a back-and-forth mixing of a tightly paced info-narrative with a freer, less structured, character-driven story in prose.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: No permission for electronic availability
Subjects: Degree Thesis
Departments: College of Arts and Humanities > School of English Literature
Degree Thesis
Date Deposited: 19 Aug 2015 14:57
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2016 16:00
URI: http://e.bangor.ac.uk/id/eprint/5246
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