In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Narratology and the Classics

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works

Classics Narratology and the Classics
Antonios Rengakos, Chrysanthe Tsitsiou-Chelidoni
  • LAST REVIEWED: 24 July 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 July 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0138


Narratology (a term coined by Tzvetan Todorov in 1969), “a humanities discipline dedicated to the study of the logic, principles, and practices of narrative representation” (Jan Christoph Meister), has influenced classics mainly in its “classical”/structuralist version developed in the 1960s and 1970s in France by critics such as Roland Barthes, Todorov, Algirdas Greimas, Claude Julien Bremond, and Gérard Genette. A distinctive branch of German narratological studies (Erzähltheorie) represented by the works of Eberhard Lämmert, Käte Hamburger, or Franz Karl Stanzel had only a limited impact, almost exclusively on German-speaking classicists. The aim of this bibliography is to acquaint the reader with ancient authors whose study benefited from narratology, but it does not cover all narrative studies pertaining to Greek and Latin authors, though quite often in an inflationary use the term “narratology” is interchangeable with “narrative studies.”

Introductory Works

Genette 1980 and Bal 2009 are foundational texts for narratology. Chatman 1978 offers a comprehensive presentation of narratological theory. Herman, et al. 2005 is a detailed guide. Schmitz 2007 and Fowler 2001 constitute excellent introductions, with emphasis on narratology’s place within classics. Stanzel 1984 influenced only German studies on classical authors.

  • Bal, Mieke. 2009. Narratology: Introduction to the theory of narrative. 3d ed. Toronto: Univ. of Toronto Press.

    An excellent introduction to narratology, with an important extension of Genette’s focalization theory; especially influential in the field through Irene J. F. de Jong’s work. Originally published as De theorie van vertellen en verhalen (Muiderberg, The Netherlands: Coutinho, 1980).

  • Chatman, Seymour. 1978. Story and discourse: Narrative structure in fiction and film. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

    A comprehensive theory of narratology, integrating French structuralist (Barthes, Todorov, Genette) with Anglo-American (and Russian) narrative theory.

  • Fowler, Don. 2001. Introduction. In Texts, ideas, and the classics. Edited by Stephen J. Harrison, 65–69. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

    A very succinct introduction to (the history of) narratology; ideal for a first orientation.

  • Genette, Gérard. 1980. Narrative discourse: An essay in method. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press.

    A cornerstone of structuralist narratology, and the work with the greatest influence. Puts the stress on temporality (distinction among order, duration, and frequency) and introduces the concept of focalization. Originally published as “Discours du récit” in Gérard Genette, Figures, Vol. 3 (Paris: Seuil, 1972), pp. 65–273. See also the reassessment in Gérard Genette, Narrative Discourse Revisited (Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univ. Press, 1988).

  • Herman, David, Manfred Jahn, and Marie-Laure Ryan, eds. 2005. Routledge encyclopedia of narrative theory. London: Routledge.

    Authoritative and in-depth information by international experts on all major concepts of narratology.

  • Schmitz, Thomas A. 2007. Modern literary theory and ancient texts: An introduction. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

    DOI: 10.1002/9780470692295

    Chapter 3 is devoted to narratology, with very useful, short discussions of various models (Vladimir Propp, Algirdas Greimas, Roland Barthes, Gérard Genette, Irene J. F. de Jong). Originally published as Moderne Literaturtheorie und antike Texte (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2002).

  • Stanzel, Franz Karl. 1984. A theory of narrative. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    Provides the prevalent narratological model in German-speaking countries. Distinguishes among three prototypical narrative situations (the authorial, the figural, and the first person), whose characteristics may appear combined in concrete texts. Originally published in 1979 as Theorie des Erzählens (Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht).

back to top

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

How to Subscribe

Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.