unreliable narrator love

unreliable narrator


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun literary theory A narrating character or storyteller in a literary or other artistic work—such as a novel, play, song, or film—who provides inaccurate, misleading, conflicting, or otherwise questionable information to the reader or audience.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Reportedly coined by U.S. literary critic Wayne C. Booth in 1961.


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  • slumry, could you give a reference? I keep picturing the narrator switching stories mid-movie, whilst the actors keep performing according to the original script.

    July 3, 2007

  • The Wikipedia description is pretty succinct. I have always understood it to refer to the reader's *job* of judging how trustworthy the narrator is in a piece of fiction.

    July 3, 2007

  • Like in those stories where the narrator turns out to be the bad guy in the end, right? That's fun but almost approaches a level of action I'm too lazy to carry when reading a book for fun. Or watching a movie, or whatever.

    July 3, 2007

  • It is more of a lit-crit thing, isn't it? Still, some of the fun of mystery stories can be in speculating about who is believable. And it seems related to dramatic irony, where the audience knows more than the players do.

    July 3, 2007

  • U, I'm with you there. Just this morning, as I was reading a novel, I started wondering whether I had an unreliable narrator on my hands and thought, "Well, I'm just not up for that, so he'd better not be." In movies, somehow I have a higher level of tolerance for such things.

    July 3, 2007

  • I did not say I *liked* unreliable narrators, only that they exist in literature ;-) Just as in real life. Then again, we often read fiction for a reprieve from real life.

    July 3, 2007

  • Oh, I wasn't suggesting that, slumry. Just grousing. :-)

    July 3, 2007

  • Oh yes, we all have to grouse a bit.

    July 4, 2007