Since there are a few more days left before the 2012 Tour, the next few blogs will focus on background information, definitions and possibly reviews of other races to help me develop a standard methodology.
First and foremost, what is narratology? Basically, it’s a study or theory of narratives. It’s necessary to say “a” theory and not “the” theory, because there are quite a few, and they are not at all contradictory. It is a formalistic and structuralist approach that revolves around separating the story (the events and actions) from the discourse (the recounting, the story being told) and the variety of relations these two things have with eachother. It is an examination of how things are told. Think about Raymond Queneau’s Exercises du style or that movie where the comedians all tell the same joke.
It also follows that narratology can be applied to not only print literature in the most classic forms (novels, etc), but to almost anything: advertisements, songs, conversations, thoughts. Pretty much everything is the act or product of narration. It’s important to point out also that narratology is not a linguistic study, which while we sometimes look at word choice and verb tense, this is merely to evaluate that there is an effect given by whatever stylistic choice. We are also not evaluating implicated nor metaphorical meanings. We look at the text and what is there, that is all. When we look at les compte rendu sportifs we’ll see lots of metaphors, but not evaluate their meaning. The author will never be taken into account, only the narrator and his role or degree of presence.
Throughout my studies, I will primarily be using Gerard Genette’s “Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method” in both French and English. Not all of the theory applies directly to my study so it will focus mostly on order, duration, and certain aspects of mood (in French: ordre, durée/vitesse, mode). For his study, Genette uses Proust’s La recherche de temps perdu as an example. Proust provides the most complex sorts of narratological conundrums, but in my brief study of Du cote de Chez Swann, it obviously lacks examples of the most basic literary practices.
In order to outline my study, I’ll be using the 2012 Tour de France, l’Équipe, Vélo101, and Eurosport. I think that these few journals are simultaneously popular and quite different in the kinds of narratives they give about races. Not every analysis will be exhaustive, but will likely focus on an element that is strikingly different. I have the intentions of keeping my analysis of the race out of it.