1. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    First person narrative telling someone else's story

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by Sundae, Apr 28, 2011.

    Can anyone suggest novels where you have a first person narrator who is telling you someone else's story?

    Where the first person narrator is not the MC, but at the same time does have a small role(s) in the novel, but overall, the story is about someone else?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sundae,

    Are you seeking to have the non main character tell his/a story not in the presence of the main POV character?

    Or are you seeking to have the person tell his/a story in the presence of the main POV character, but where the dialogue quotes and punctuation is a concern?

    I had a short story published written in first person where the main character listens to events that happened to another character in the story by that second character (like a story within the story).

    Here is the link to the story: "Vegetable Matters" The relevant part you'd be intersted in starts about 1/3 of the way through the story.

    Hope it helps.

    Terry
     
  3. Ophiucha
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    Moby Dick.

    ETA: Also, to lesser extents, The Great Gatsby and Sherlock Holmes.
    Nick narrates Gatsby, Watson narrates Holmes. Watson is a major character, so that one might not count, but the stories are nonetheless undeniably about Sherlock, not Watson.

    Wuthering Heights, I suppose.
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.
    H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. I think Island of Doctor Moreau, too.
    Herbert West, Reanimator by H.P. Lovecraft.
    Anything by Dostoevsky, at least that I have read.
    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is narrated by Utterson.
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, if memory serves.
    The Sound and the Fury.
    I guess Death from The Book Thief, too.



    A couple of them might be third person limited; it's been a while since I've read some of them. I just remember them being narrated by someone who wasn't the protagonist.
     
  4. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    This mainly.

    Looking more for like a retrospection novel, where someone in old age looking back at their life and telling you someone else's story because that story, touched/shaped the narrator's life... and the narrator is taking you through the scenes.


    Thank you. I will definitely check it out. Sounds similar to what I'm looking for in some ways.
     
  5. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Thanks, I'll look at those suggestions. Already read a few of those and Dostoevsky... is already on my list. I've only read two of his books, I'll have to look at his others.
     
  6. teacherayala
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    teacherayala Contributing Member

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    A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving is, I think, but not fully sure.
     
  7. lilix morgan
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    lilix morgan Contributing Member

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    Yes, I recall The Great Gatsby to be somewhat what Sundae is asking for.
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Thought this thread was interesting (read as: not the same question we see several times a week) and thought I'd add the most contemporary example of this I've seen is a short story called "My Brother Eli" by Joseph Epstein (it's available online and in a few different anthologies, I believe). It does a pretty good job, as the story is narrated from the brother of Eli, and is all about Eli, which of course means we deftly learn just as much about everyone else, including the narrator. I would have thought the practice a bit dated, but Epstein pulls it off, so it can be done successfully in contemporary fiction.
     
  9. pattycat
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    I would also recommend reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee if you haven't yet. The narrator, Scout, is telling the story of an event that happened when she was a child. The main character, though, is her father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer who is representing a black man accused of raping a white woman (in the 1930's)
     
  10. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Gracias, gracias, especially for the fact that it's a contemporary story. Will check out.

    Thanks. It's not quite what I'm looking for as far as story-telling, but it does have quiet a few elements that would be helpful. I should read it again.
     
  11. Admin
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    The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman is an amazing book that does a good job of this. It is a VERY easy read, has very basic themes, and was intended for teenager's consumption, but I have read it many times in the past three or four years and have never gotten tired of the story of Antsie, more importantly, Calvin Schwa.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The Sherlock Holmes collection by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Narrated from the perspective of Dr. Watson.
     
  13. Lightman
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    Distant Star by Roberto Bolaño is a contemporary example. It's rather complicated - Arturo Belano (Roberto Bolaño's literary alter-ego) is recounting to Roberto events that he did not observe, and in some cases nobody observed. The style is kind of unorthodox and at some times wanting.
     

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