On the politics of discordant, estranging and bonding reliability: Contextualist narratology at work

TitleOn the politics of discordant, estranging and bonding reliability: Contextualist narratology at work
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPuxan-Oliva, M
JournalFrontiers of Narrative Studies
Paginations190 - s212
Date Published2018///
ISBN Number2509-4882
KeywordsCamus, contextualist narratology, narrative unreliability, politics of form

As proposed by Olson and Copland (2016), “the politics of form” should help us examine both the ways in which politics condition narrative form and the ways in which narrative forms, in turn, participate in their political contexts. Contextualist approaches in narratology have gained attention since the beginning of the 21st century, but theorists still struggle to determine how political discourses are relevant to narrative form. This article proposes that the modulations of narrative reliability known as “estranging narration” (Phelan 2007) and “discordant narration” (Cohn 2002) are especially dependent on the political discourses that make them possible. Both categories describe forms of narrative reliability based on biased judgment rather than misreported facts, but the use of political ideology in these approaches has not been sufficiently examined. This is evident in Albert Camus’ L’étranger (1942) [The Stranger], which actively uses the École d’Alger colonial discourse of the Méditerranée from contemporaneous French Algeria, to produce an ambivalent version of estranging and discordant narration. The politics of form, therefore, provides an opportunity to delve into and revise the concepts of estranging and discordant narration, which constitute a good starting point for narratologists’ efforts to elucidate both the uses of historical discourse in narrative poetics and the uses of narrative poetics for shaping political ideology.


About us

ENN is the European Narratology Network, an association of individual narratologists and narratological institutions. ENN aims to foster the study of narrative representation in literature, film, digital media, etc. across all European languages and cultures.