Structural Analysis of Narratives

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Barthes, Roland 1985. The Semiotic Challenge. Translated by Richard Howard. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Introduction to the Structural Analysis of Narratives

Numberless are the world's narratives. First of all in a prodigious variety of genres, themselves distributed among different substances, as if any material were appropriate for man to entrust his stories to it: narrative can be supported by articulated speech, oral or written, by image, fixed or moving, by gesture, and by the organized mixture of all these substances; it is present in myth, legend, fable, tale, tragedy, comedy, epic, history, pantomime, painting (think of Carpaccio's Saint Ursula) stained-glass window, cinema, comic book, news item, conversation. Further, in these almost infinite forms, narrative occurs in all periods, all places, all societies; narrative begins with the very history of humanity; there is not, there has never been, any people anywhere without narrative; all classes, all human groups have their narratives, and very often these are enjoyed by men of different, even opposing culture
[Footnote 1] This is not the case, it will be recalled, with poetry nor with the essay, dependent on the cultural level of their consumers.
: narrative never prefers good to bad literature: international, trans-historical, transcultural, narrative is there, like life.
Is such universality a reason for us to infer narrative's unimportance? Is narrative so general that we have nothing to say about it, except modestly to describe a few of its extreme varieties, as literary history sometimes does? But how are we to master these very varieties, how are we to establish our right to distinguish them, to recognize them? How are we to set novel against novella, tale against myth, drama against tragedy (as has been done a thousand times) without reference to a common model? This model is implied by all speech concerning the most individual, the most historical of narrative forms. Hence it is legitimate that, far from renouncing all ambition to speak of narrative on the excuse that it is, after all, a universal phenomenon, there should have been periodic concern with narrative form (Aristotle); and it is normal that a nascent structuralism should make this form one of its preoccupations: is it not a permanent preoccupation of structuralism to master the infinity of words by describing the language by which they are produced and out of which they can be engendered? Confronting the infinity of narratives, the multiplicity of the points of view from which we can speak of them (historical, psychological, sociological, ethnological, esthetic, etc.), the analyst is virtually in the same situation as Saussure, confronting the heteroclite nature of language and attempting to perceive in the apparent anarchy of its messages a principle of classification and a focus of description. To remain within the present period, the Russian Formalists, Propp, and Lévi-Strauss have taught us to recognize the following dilemma: either narrative is a simple chronicling of events, in which case we can discuss it only by relying on the tekteller's (the author's) art, talent, genius - all mythic forms of chance
[Footnote 2] The storyteller's "art" exists, of course: it is the power to engender narratives (messages) from the structure (code); this art corresponds to Chomsky's notion of performance, and this notion is quite removed from an author's "genius," romantically conceived as a scarcely explicable individual secret.
- or else it shares with other narratives a structure accessible to analysis, whatever patience is necessary in order to articulate that structure; for there is an abyss between the most complex aleatory world and the simplest combinatory one, and no one can combine (produce) a narrative without referring to an implicit system of units and rules.
Where then are we to look for the structure of narrative? In the narratives themselves no doubt. All narratives? Many commentators, who accept the notion of a narrative structure, cannot bring themselves to separate literary analysis from the model of the experimental sciences: they intrepidly insist that a purely inductive method be applied to narration and that the first step be to study all the narratives of a genre, of a period, of a society, and then to undertake the sketch of a general model. This commonsense view is utopian. Linguistics itself, which has only some three thousand languages to survey, cannot manage this; wisely, it has remained deductive, and it was moreover from the day of that decision that linguistics actually constituted itself and has advanced with giant strides, managing even to anticipate phenomena which had not yet been discovered.
[Footnote 3] See the history of Hittite a, postulated by Saussure and actually discovered fifty years later, in Emile Benveniste, Problèmes de linguistique générale, Paris: Gallimard, 1966, p. 35; Problems of General Linguistics, Coral Gables: University of Florida, 1971, p. 32.
What then are we to say of narrative analysis, confronting millions of narratives? It is necessarily doomed to a deductive program; it is obliged to conceive, first of all, a hypothetical model of description (which the American linguists call a "theory"), and then to descend gradually from this model to the species which, simultaneously, participate in it and depart from it: it is only on the level of these conformities and these departures that narrative analysis will recognize, armed with a unique instrument of description, the plurality of narratives, their historical, geographic, cultural diversity.
[Footnote 4] We may note the present conditions of linguistic description: "... linguistic 'structure' is always relative not just to the data or corpus but also to the grammatical theory describing the data." (E. Bach, An Introduction to Transformational Grammars, New York, 1964, p. 29); "it has been recognized that language must be described as a formal structure, but that the description first of all necessitates specification of adequate procedures and criteria and that, finally, the reality of the object is inseparable from the method given for its description" (Benveniste, op. cit., p. 119, trans. p. 101).
In order to describe and classify the infinite number of narratives, we must therefore have a "theory" (in the pragmatic sense just given), and our first task will be to find it and sketch it out. The elaboration of this theory can be greatly facilitated if we begin with a model which provides it with its first terms and its first principles. In the present state of research, it seems reasonable
[Footnote 5] But not imperative (see Claude Bremond, "La logique des possibles narratifs," Communications, #8 (1966), more logical than linguistic).
to take linguistics itself as a founding model for the structural analysis of narrative.


1. Beyond the sentence
As we know, linguistics stops at the sentence, which is the last unit it considers itself entitled to deal with; if the sentence, being an order and not a series, cannot be reduced to the sum of words composing it and thereby constitutes an original unit, a larger discourse, on the contrary, is nothing but the sequence of sentences which compose it: from the linguistic point of view, there is nothing in discourse which is not to be found in the sentence: "The sentence," Martinet says, "is the smallest segment which is perfectly and integrally representative of discourse."
[Footnote 6] André Martinet, "Réflexions sur la phrase," in Language and Society (Studies presented to Jansen), Copenhagen, 1961, p. 113.
Hence linguistics cannot take an object superior to the sentence, because, beyond the sentence, there is never anything but more sentences: having described the flower, the botanist cannot be concerned with describing the bouquet.
And yet, it is obvious that discourse itself (as a group of sentences) is organized and that by this organization it appears as the message of another language, superior to the language of the linguists;
[Footnote 7] It follows, as Jakobson has observed, that there are transitions from the sentence to what lies beyond it: coordination, for example, can function beyond the sentence.
discourse has its units, its rules, its "grammar": beyond the sentence and although composed solely of sentences, discourse must naturally be the object of a second linguistics. This linguistics of discourse has for a very long time possessed a celebrated name: Rhetoric; but since Rhetoric, through a complex historical development, had become linked to belles lettres and since belles lettres had been separated from the study of language, it has seemed necessary, in recent years, to take up the question anew: the new linguistics of discourse has not yet developed, but it has at least been postulated, and by the linguists themselves.
[Footnote 8] See especially: Benveniste, op. cit., chapter x; Zelig Harris, "Discourse Analysis" in Language, #28 (1952), pp. 18-23 & 474-494; Nicolas Ruwet, Language, Musique, Poésie, Paris: Éd. du. Seuil, 1972, pp. 151-175.
This fact is significant: though constituting an autonomous object, discourse is to be studied from a linguistic basis; if we must grant a working hypothesis to an analysis whose task is enormous and whose materials are infinite, the most reasonable thing is to postulate a homologous relation between sentence and discourse, insofar as the same formal organization apparently regulates all semiotic systems, whatever their substances and dimensions: discourse would be one huge "sentence" (whose units would not necessarily be sentences), just as the sentence, allowing for certain specifications, is a little "discourse." This hypothesis fits in with certain propositions of contemporary anthropology: Jakobson and Lévi-Strauss have observed that humanity could be defined by the power to create secondary, "multiplying" systems (tools serving to fabricate other tools, the double articulation of language, the incest taboo permitting the proliferation of families), and the Soviet linguist Ivanov speculates that artificial languages can be acquired only after natural language: since what is important for humanity is being able to use several systems of meaning, natural language helps in elaborating artificial languages. Hence it is legitimate to postulate between sentence and discourse a "secondary" relation - which we shall call homological, in order to respect the purely formal character of the correspondence.
The general language of narrative is obviously but one of the idioms available to the linguistics of discourse,
[Footnote 9] It would be, specifically, one of the tasks of the linguistics of discourse to establish a typology of discourses. For the time being, we can recognize three major types of discourse: metonymic (narrative), metaphoric (lyric poetry, sapiential discourse), enthymematic (intellectual discourse).
and is consequently subject to the homological hypothesis: structurally, narrative participates in the sentence without ever being reducible to a total of sentences: narrative is a great sentence, just as every constative sentence is, in a way, the sketch of a little narrative. Though afforded there with origin (often highly complex) signifiers, we in effect recognize in narrative, enlarged and transformed in proportion, the main categories of the verb: tenses, aspects, modes, persons; further, the "subjects" themselves set in opposition to the verbal predicates do not fail to submit to the sentence model: the actantial typology Greimas proposes (cf. infra, III, 1) acknowledges in the host of characters of narrative the elementary functions of grammatical analysis. The homology we are suggesting here has not only a heuristic value: it implies an identity between language and literature (inasmuch as literature is a kind of privileged vehicle of narrative): it is no longer possible to conceive of literature as an art unconcerned with any relation to language, once it has used language as an instrument to express ideas, passion, or beauty: language does not cease to accompany discourse, holding it up to the mirror of its own structure: does not literature, especially today, make a language out of the very conditions of language?
[Footnote 10] Here is the place to recall Mallarmé's intuition, formed just when he was planning a work of linguistics: "Language appeared to him the instrument of fiction: he will follow the method of language (determine this method). Language reflecting itself. Finally fiction seems to him the very process of the human mind - it is fiction which brings every method into play, and man is reduced to will" (Oeuvres complètes, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, 1961, p. 851). It will be recalled that for Mallarmé: "Fiction or Poetry" (cf. ibid., p. 335).

2. The levels of meaning
From the start, linguistics provides the structural analysis of narrative with a decisive concept, because, immediately accounting for what is essential to any system of meaning, i.e., its organization, it permits both the demonstration of how a narrative is not a simple total of propositions and the classification of an enormous mass of elements which participate in the composition of a narrative. This concept is that of the level of description.
[Footnote 11] "Linguistic descriptions are not, so to speak, monovalent. A description is not simply 'right' or 'wrong' in itself ... it is better thought of as more useful or less" (M. A. K. Halliday, "General Linguistics and its Application to Language Teaching," Patterns of Language, London, 1966, p. 8).
A sentence, as we know, can be described, linguistically, on several levels (phonetic, phonological, grammatical, contextual); these levels are in a hierarchical relation, for if each has its own units and its own correlations, necessitating for each an independent description, no level can in and of itself produce meaning: every unit which belongs to a certain level assumes meaning only if it can be integrated into a higher level: a phoneme, though perfectly describable, in itself means nothing; it participates in meaning only when integrated into a word; and the word itself must be integrated into the sentence.
[Footnote 12] The levels of integration were postulated by the Prague School (vide J. Vachek, A Prague School Reader in Linguistics, Bloomington, 1964, p. 468) and subsequently adopted by many linguists. It is Benveniste, it seems to me, who has produced their most enlightening analysis (op. cit., chapter 10).
The theory of levels (as articulated by Benveniste) provides two types of relations: distributional (if the relations are situated on the same level), integrative (if they are apprehended from one level to another). It follows that the distributional levels do not suffice to account for meaning. In order to achieve a structural analysis, we must therefore first distinguish several instances of description and place these instances in a hierarchical (integrative) perspective.
The levels are operations.
[Footnote 13] "In somewhat vague terms, a level may be considered as a system of symbols, rules, and so on, to be used for representing utterances" (Bach, op. cit., p. 57).
Hence it is normal that as it proceeds linguistics tends to multiply them. The analysis of discourse can as yet work on only rudimentary levels. In its fashion, rhetoric had assigned to discourse at least two planes of description: dispositio and elocutio.
[Footnote 14] The third part of rhetoric, inventio, did not concern language: it dealt with res, not with verba.
In our own day, in his analysis of the structure of myth, Lévi-Strauss has already specified that the constitutive units of mythic discourse (mythemes) acquire meaning only because they are grouped in bundles and because these bundles themselves are combined;
[Footnote 15] Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, New York & London, 1963, p. 213.
and Tzvetan Todorov, adopting the distinction of the Russian formalists, has proposed to work on two main levels, themselves subdivided: story (the argument), including a logic of actions and a "syntax" of characters, and discourse, including tenses, aspects, and modes of narrative.
[Footnote 16] Tzvetan Todorov, "Les catégories du récit littéraire," Communications, #8 (1966).
Whatever the numbers of levels proposed and whatever definitions given to them, there can be no doubt that narrative is a hierarchy of instances. To understand a narrative is not only to follow the process of the story, it is also to recognize in it certain "stages," to project the horizontal concatenations of the narrative "thread" on an implicit vertical axis; to read (to hear) a narrative is not only to pass from one word to the next, but also to pass from one level to the text. Let me offer a kind of fable here: in his Purloined Letter, Poe acutely analyzed the failure of the Paris police chief, who was unable to find the letter: his investigations were perfect, Poe says, "so far as his labors extended": the police chief omitted no location, he entirely "saturated" the level of "search"; but in order to find the letter - protected by its conspicuousness - it was essential to pass to another level, to substitute the concealer's pertinence for that of the policeman. In the same way, complete as the "search" performed on a horizontal group of narrative relations may be, in order to be effective it must also be oriented "vertically": meaning is not "at the end" of narrative, it traverses it; quite as conspicuous as the purloined letter, it similarly escapes any unilateral exploration.
Much groping will still be necessary before we can determine the levels of narrative. Those which we are going to propose here constitute a temporary outline, whose advantage is still almost exclusive didactic: they permit locating and grouping the problems, without disagreeing, it would appear, with the various analyses made so far. We propose to distinguish in the narrative work three levels of description: the level of "functions" (in the meaning of this word is given by Propp and Bremond), the level of "actions" (in the meaning this word is given by Greimas when he speaks of characters as actants), and the level of "narration" (which is, by and large, the level of "discourse" in Todorov). It must be recalled that these three levels are linked together according to a mode of progressive integration: a function has meaning only insofar as it occurs in the general action of an actant; ad this action itself receives its ultimate meaning from the fact that it is narrated, entrusted to a discourse which has its own code.


1. The determination of units
Every system being the combination of units whose classes are known, we must first segment the narrative and determine the segment of the narrative discourse which can be distributed into a small number of classes; in a word, we must define the smallest narrative unit.
According to the integrative perspective defined here, the analysis cannot be limited to a purely distributional definition of the units: meaning must from the first be the criterion of the unit: it is the functional character of ceratin segments of the story which makes them units: whence the name "functions," immediately given to these first units. Since the Russian Formalists,
See especially B. Tomashevski, "Thématique" (1925), in Theorie de la littérature, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1965. - Somewhat later, Propp defined function as "the action of a character, defined from the point of view of its signification in the course of the Plot" (Morphology of the Folktale, Austin & London, 1968, p. 21). See also Todorov's definition: "The meaning (or the function) of an element of the work is its possibility of entering into correlation with other elements of this work and with the work as a whole" (op. cit.) and the clarifications provided by Greimas, who has just defined the unit by its paradigmatic correlation, but also by its place within the syntagmatic unit of which it constitutes a part.
any segment of the story is constituted as a unit which is presented as the term of a correlation. The soul of any function is, so to speak, its seed, what allows it to sow the narrative with an element which will ripen later, on the same level, or elsewhere, on another level: if, in Un Coeur simple, Flaubert tells us at a certain point, apparently without insisting on it, that the daughters of the sub-prefect of Pont-l'Êveque owned a parrot, it is because this parrot will later have a great importance in Félicité's life: the statement of this detail (whatever its linguistic form) therefore constitutes a function, or narrative unit.
Is everything, in a narrative, functional? Does everything, down to the least detail, have a meaning? Can the narrative be entirely segmented into functional units? As we shall shortly see, there are doubtless several types of functions, for there are several types of correlations. Nonetheless a narrative always consists of nothing but functions: everything in it, to varying degrees, signifies. This is not a question of art (of the narrator's share), it is a question of structure: in the order of discourse, what is noted is, by definition, notable: even when a detail seems irreducibly significant, refractory to any function, it will nonetheless ultimately have the very meaning of absurdity or uselessness: everything has a meaning or nothing has. We might say in other words that art does not acknowledge "noise" (in the meaning that word has in information theory):
[Footnote 18] It is this that makes art different from "life," which acknowledges only "blurred" communications. "Blurring" (what one cannot see beyond) can exist in art, but then as a coded element (Watteau, for instance); again, this "blurring" is unknown to the written code: writing is fatally distinct.
it is a pure system, there is never a "wasted" unit,
[Footnote 19] At least in literature, where the freedom of notation (consequent upon the abstract character of articulated language) involves a stronger responsibility than in the "analogical" arts, such as the cinema.
however long, loose, and tenuous the thread linking it to the levels of the story.
[Footnote 20] The functionality of the narrative unit is more or less immediate (hence apparent), according to the level where it functions: when the units are placed on the same level (in the case of suspense, for instance), functionality is very sensitive; much less so when the function is saturated on the narrational level: a modern text, weakly signifying on the anecdotal plane, recovers a great strength of meaning only on the plane of writing.
Function is obviously, from the linguistic point of view, a unity of content: it is what a statement "means" which constitutes it as a functional unit,
[Footnote 21] "Syntactical units (beyond the sentence) are actually units of content" (A. J. Greimas, Sémantique structurale, Paris: Larousse, 1966, VI, 5). - Hence the exploration of the functional level is part of general semantics.
not the way in which it is said. This constitutive signified can have different signifiers, often very complicated ones: if I am told (in Goldfinger) that "James Bond saw a man of about fifty," etc., the information simultaneously harbors two functions, of unequal pressure: on the one hand, the age of the character is integrated into a certain portrayal (whose "unefulness" for the lest of the story is not nil, but diffused, delayed), and on the other, the immediate signified of the statement is that Bond does not know his future interlocutor: the unit therefore implies a very strong correlation (initiation of a threat and obligation to identify the character). In order to determine the first narrative units, it is therefore necessary never to lose sight of the functional character of the segment being examined, and to admit in advance that they will not inevitably coincide with the forms traditionally identified with the different parts of narrative discourse (actions, scenes, paragraphs, dialogues, interior monologues, etc.), and still less with the "psychological" classes (kinds of behaviour, feelings, intentions, motivations, rationalizations of characters).
In the same way, since the language of narrative is not that of articulated speech - though often supported by it - the narrative units will be substantially independent of the linguistic units: they may of course coincide, but occasionally, not systematically; the functions will be represented sometimes by units superior to the sentence (groups of sentences of various dimension, up to the work in its entirety), sometimes by units inferior to it (the syntagm, the word, and even, within the word, only certain literary elements);
[Footnote 22] "We must not treat the word as if it were an indivisible element of literary art, the brick with which the building is constructed. It can be decomposed into much finer 'verbal elements" (J. Tynyanov, quoted by Todorov in Langages, #1, 1966, p. 18).
when we are told that - while he is on duty in his office at Secret Service headquarters - "Bond picked up one of the four receivers," the moneme four constitutes by itself a functional unit, for it refers to a concept necessary to the whole of the story (that of an elaborate bureaucratic technique); as a matter of fact, the narrative unit here is not the linguistic unit (the word), but only its connoted value (linguisticalyl, the word /four/ never means "four"); this explains how certain functional units can be inferior to the sentence, without ceasing to belong to the discourse: they often overflow not the sentence, to which they remain materially inferior, but the level of denotation, which belongs, like thesentence, to linguistic properly speaking.

2. Classes of units
These functional units must be distributed within a small number of formal classes. If we want to determine these classes without resorting to the substance of the content (a psychological substance, for example), we must again consider the different levels of meaning: certain units have for correlates units on the same level; on the contrary, in order to saturate the others, we must pass to another level. Hence. at the start, two major classes of functions, some distributional, others integrative. The former correspond to Propp's functions, adopted notably by Bremond, but which are considering here in an infinitely more detailed fashion than these authors; it is to them that we shall apply the name "functions" (though the other units, too, are functional); the model for them has been classical since Tomashevsky's analysis: the purchase of a revolver has for its correlate the movement when it will be used (and if it is not used, the notation is reversed as a sign of indecision, etc.); to pick up the telephone has for its correlate the moment when it will be hung up again; the intrusion of the parrot into Félicité's house has for its correlate the episode of the parrot's being stuffed, worshipped, etc. The second major class of units, of an integrative nature, includes all the "indices" (in the very general sense of the word),
[Footnote 23] These designations, like those that follow, may all be provisional.
when the unit refers not to a complementary and consequent action, but to a more or less diffused concept, though one necessary to the meaning of the story: characterial indices concerning the characters, information relative to their identity, notations of "atmosphere," etc.; the relation of the unit and its correlate is then no longer distributional (frequently several indices refer to the same signified and their order of appearance in the discourse is not necessarily pertinent), but integrative; in order to understand the "use" of an indicial notation, we must pass to a higher level (actions of the characters or narration), for it is only here that the index is explained; the administrative power which is behind Bond, indexed by the number of telephones, has no bearing on the sequence of actions in which Bond is engaged by answering the call; it assumes its meaning only on the level of a general typology of actants (Bond is on the side of order); the indices, by the more or less vertical nature of their relations, are truly semantic units, for contrary to the true "functions," they refer to a signified, not to an "operation"; the sanction of the indices is "higher up," sometimes even virtual, outside the explicit syntagm (the "character" of a character can never be named, though ceaselessly indexed), it is a paradigmatic sanction; on the contrary, the sanction of the "functions" is always "further on," it is a syntagmatic sanction.
[Footnote 24] Which does not keep the syntagmatic display of functions from finally being able to cover paradigmatic relations between separate functions, as has been acknowledged since Lévi-Strauss and Greimas.
Functions and indices thus cover another classical distinction: the functions imply metonymic relata, the indices imply metaphoric relata; the former correspond to a functionality of doing, the latter to a functionality of being.
[Footnote 25] We cannot reduce the functions to actions (verbs) and the indices to qualities (adjectives), for there are actions which are indicial, being "signs" of a character, of an atmosphere, etc.
These two major classes of units, Functions and Indices, should already permit a certain classification of narratives. Certain narratives are powerfully functional (such as folktales), and on the other hand others are powerfully indicial (such as "psychological" novels); between these two poles, a whole series of intermediary forms, dependent on history, society, genre. But this is not all: within each of these two major classes, it is immediately possible to determine two subclasses of narrative units. With regard to the class of Functions, its units do not all have the same "importance"; some constitute veritable hinges of the narrative (or of a narrative fragment); others merely "fill" the narrative space separating the hinge-functions: let us call the former cardinal functions (or nuclei) and the latter, given their completive nature, catalyses. For a function to be cardinal, it suffices that the action to which it refers opens (or sustains, or closes) an alternative consequential for the rest of the story, in short, that it inaugurate or conclude an uncertainty; if, in a narrative fragment, the telephone rings, it is equally possible that it will or will not be answered, which will not fail to lead the story in two different directions. On the other hand, between two cardinal functions, it is always possible to arrange subsidiary notations, which agglomerate around one nucleus or another without modifying their alternative nature: the space which separates "the telephone rang" and "Bond answered" can be saturated by a host of tiny incidents or tiny descriptions: "Bond went over to the desk, picked up a receiver, put down his cigarette," etc. Such catalyses remain functional, insofar as they enter into correlation with a nucleus, but their functionality is attenuated, unilateral, parasitic: we are concerned here with a purely chronological functionality (what is being described is what separates two moments of the story), while, in the link which unites two cardinal functions, is invested a double functionality, both chronological and logical: the catalyses are merely consequential. There is every reason to believe, as a matter of fact, that the mainspring of narrative activity is the very confusion of consecution and consequentiality, what comes after being read in the narrative as caused by; the narrative would in this case be a systematic application of the logical error condemned by Scholasticism in the formula post hoc, ergo propter hoc, which might well be the motto of Fate, of which the narrative is in fact merely the "language"; and this "squeezing together" of logic and temporality is achieved by the armature of the cardinal functions. These functions may seem at first glance quite insignificant; what constitutes them is not spectacle (the importance, volume, rarity, or power of the action articulated), it is, so to speak, risk: the cardinal functions are the moments of risk of the narrative; between these points of alternative, between these "dispatchers," the catalyses set up zones of security, rests, luxuries; these "luxuries" are not, however, useless: from the story's point of view, let us repeat, the functionality of the catalysis may be weak but not nil: were it purely redundant (in relation to its nucleus), it would participate no less in the message's economy; but this is not the case: a notation, apparently expletive, always has a discursive function: it accelerates, delays, resumes the discourse, it summarizes, anticipates, sometimes even misleads or baffles:
[Footnote 26] Valéry used to speak of "dilatory signs." The detective story makes great use of these "baffling" signs.
what is noted always appearing as notable, catalysis constantly wakens the semantic tension of the discourse, constantly says: there has been, there is going to be meaning; the constant function of catalysis is therefore, ultimately, a phatic one (to adopt Jakobson's word): it sustains the contact between the narrator and the receiver of the narrative. Let us say that we cannot suppress a catalysis without altering the discourse. As for the second major class of narrative units (the Indices), an integrative class, the units which occur here have in common the fact that they can be saturated (completed) only on the level of the characters or of the narration; they therefore belong to a parametric relation
[Footnote 27] Nicolas Ruwet calls a parametric element one which is constant throughout an entire piece of music (for example, the tempo of an allegro by Bach, or the monodic character of a solo).
whose second, implicit term is continuous, extensive to an episode, a character or an entire work; yet we can distinguish here certain indices, strictly speaking, referring to a character, to a feeling, to an atmosphere (for instance, one of suspicion), to a philosophy, from items of information, which serve to identify, to situate in time and in space. To say that Bond is on duty in an office whose open window reveals the moon between huge, rolling clouds is to index a stormy summer night, and this deduction itself forms an atmospherir index which refers to the heavy, oppressive climate of an action which is not yet known. The indices therefore always have implicit signifieds; the items of information, on the contrary, do not, at least on the level of the story: they are pure data, immediately signifying. The indices imply an activity of decipherment: the reader must learn to know a character, an atmosphere; the items of information supply a ready-made knowledge; their functionality, like that of the catalyses, is therefore weak, but it too is too nil: whatever its "matte" nature in relation to the story, the item of information (for instance, the exact age of a character) serves to authenticate the reality of the referent, to implant the fiction in reality: it is a realist operator, and thus possesses as incontestable functionality, not on the level of the story but on the level of the discourse.
Gérard Genette distinguishes two kinds of descriptions: ornamental and significant (in Figures II: Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1969). The significant description must obviously be attached to the level of the story and the ornamental description to the level of the discourse, which explains why for so long it formed a perfectly coded rhetorical "piece": descriptio or ekphrasis, a highly prized exercise of neo-rhetoric.
Nuclei and catalyses, indices and items of information (once again, the names are of little importance) - such are, it would seem, the first classes among which the units of the functional level can be distributed. We must complete this classification by two remarks. First of all, a unit can belong at the same time to two different classes: to drink a whisky (in an airport lounge) is an action which may serve as a catalysis to the (cardinal) notation of waiting, but it is also and at the same time the index of a certain atmosphere (modernity, relaxation, memories, etc.): in other words, certain units can be mixed. Thus a whole play of possibilities arises in the narrative economy; in the novel Goldfinger, Bond, having to search his adversary's bedroom, receives a skeleton key from his partner: the notation is a pure (cardinal) function; in the film, this detail is altered: Bond manages to relieve an unprotesting chambermaid of her keys; the notation is not only functional now, but also indicial, it refers to Bond's character (his offhandedness and his success with women). Secondly, we must remark (what will moreover be taken up again later on) that the other classes we have just mentioned can be subject to another distribution, one more in accord, moreover, with the linguistic model. The catalyses, the indices and the items of information have a common character: they are all expansions, in relation to the nuclei: the nuclei (as we shall soon see) form finite groups of a small number of terms, they are governed by a logic, they are at once necessary and sufficient; given this armature, the toher units fill it out according to a mode of proliferation which is in principle infinite; as we know, this is what happens in the case of the sentence, consisting of simple propositions, complicated to infinity by duplications, by paddings, insertions, etc.: like the sentence, the narrative is infinitely catalyzable. Mallarmé attaches such importance to this type of structure that he used it to construct his poem Un Coup de dès, which we may well consider, with its "nodes" and its "loops," its "node-words" and its "lace-words," as the emblem of all narrative - of all language.

3. Functional syntax
How - accordnig to what "grammar" - do these different units link up with each other throughout the narrative syntagm? What are the rules of the functional combinatory system? The items of information and the indices can freely combine among themselves: for example in the character sketch, which unconstrainedly juxtaposes data of civil status and character traits. A relation of simple implication unites the catalyses and the nuclei: a catalysis necessarily implies the existence of a cardinal function to which it is attached, but not vice versa. As for the cardinal functions, they are united by a relation of solidarity: a function of this kind requires another of the same kind, and vice versa. It is this last relation which we must attend to briefly: first of all because it defines the very armature of the narrative (the expansions can be suppressed, but not the nuclei), then because it chiefly concerns those who are seeking to structure narrative.
We have already observed that, by its very structure, narrative instituted a confusion between consecution and consequentiality, time and logic. It is this ambiguity which forms the central problem of narrative syntax. Is there behind narrative time an atemporal logic? This point divided investigators quite recently. Propp, whose analysis as we know opened the way to contemporary studies, insists on the irreducibility of the chonological order: time in his eyes is reality, and for this reason it seems necessary to root the tale in time. Yet aristotle himself, setting tragedy (defined by the unity of action) in opposition to history (defined by the plurality of actions and the unity of time), already attributed primacy to logic over chronology (Poetics, 1469a). As do all contemporary researchers (Lévi-Strauss, Greimas, Bremond, Todorov), all of whom might subscribe (though diverging on other points) to Lévi-Strauss's proposition: "The order of chronological succession is reabsorbed into an atemporal matrix structure."
[Footnote 29] Quoted by Claude Bremond, "Le message narratif," in Logique du récit, Paris: Èd. du Seuil, 1973.
Contemporary analysis tends, as a matter of fact, to "dechronologize" narrative content and to "relogicize" it, to subject it to what Mallarmé called, apropos of the French language, "the primitive thunderbolts of logic."
[Footnote 30] Quant au Livre, in Oeuvres complètes, op. cit., p. 386.
Or more exactly - at least, so we hope - the task is to produce a structural description of the chronological illusion; it is up to narrative logic to account for narrative time. We might say in another fashion that temporality is only a structural class of narrative (of discourse), just as, in language, time exists only in a systematic form; from the point of view of narrative, what we call time does not exist, or at least exists only functionally, as an element of a semiotic system: time does not belong to discourse properly speaking, but to the referent; narrative and language know only a semiological time; "real" time isa referential, "realist" illusion, as Propp's commentary shows, and it is as such that structural description must treat it.
[Footnote 31] In his fashion, as always perspicarious though undeveloped, Valéry has well expressed the status of narrative time: "Belief in time as agent and guiding thread is based on the mechanism of memory and on that of combined discourse" (Tel Quel, in Oeuvres, Vol. II, Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Paris, 1957, p. 348; our italics): the illusion is actually producedd by the discourse itself.
What then is the logic which governs the chief functions of narrative? This is what current investigation is attempting to establish, and what has hithero been most widely debated. Hence we shall refer to the contributions of Greimas, Bremond, and Todorov in Communications (#8, 1966), all of which deal with the logic of the functions. Three main directions of investigation are notable, set forth by Todorov. The first (Bremond) is more strictly logical: it seeks to reconstruct the syntax of human behavior utilized in narrative, to retrace the trajectory of the "choices" which, at each point of the story, a character is inevitably compelled to make,
[Footnote 32] This conception recalls an Aristotelian view: proairesis, rational choice of the actions to be made, establishes praxis, a practical science which produces no distinct work of the agent, contrary to poiesis. In these terms, we shall say that the analyst tries to reconstitute the praxis inherent in narrative.
and thus to reveal what we might call an energetic logic,
[Footnote 33] This logic, based on an alternative (to do this or that), has the merit of accounting for the process of dramatization of which narrative is ordinarily the seat.
since it apprehends the characters at the moment when they choose to act. The second model is linguistic (Lévi-Strauss, Greimas): the essential concern of this investigation is to identify in the functions certain paradigmatic oppositions, these oppositions, according to the Jakobsonian principle of "poetics," being "extended" throughout the narrative (yet we shall see the new developments by which Greimas corrects or completes the paradigmatism of the functions). The third way, sketched by Todorov, is somewhat different, for it establishes the analysis on the level of the "actions" (i.e., of the characters), by attempting to establish the rules by which the narrative combines, varies, and transforms a certain number of basic predicates.
There is no question of choosing among these working hypotheses; they are not competitive but concurrent, and moreover they are still being elaborated. The only addition we shall attempt to make here regards the dimensions of the analysis. Even if we set aside the indices, the items of information, and the catalyses, there still remains in a narrative (particularly in speaking of the novel rather than the tale) a very great number of cardinal functions; many cannot be mastered by the analyses we have just cited, which have so far been concerned with major articulations of narrative. Yet we must anticipate a sufficiently dense description to account for all the narrative units, for its smallest segments; the cardinal functions, we recall, cannot be determined by their "importance," but only by the (doubly implicative) nature of their relations: a "telephone call," however trivial it may appear on the one hand, involves in itself several cardinal functions (ringing, picking up the receiver, speaking, hanging up), and moreover, taking these all together, we must be able to attach them as closely as possible to the major articulations of the anecdote. The functional covering of narrative compels an organization of relays, whose basic unit can only be a small group of functions, which we shall here call (following Bremond) a sequence.
A sequence is a logical succession of nuclei, linked together by a relation of solidarity:
[Footnote 34] IN the Hjelmslevian sense of double implication: two terms presuppose each other.
the sequence opens when one of its terms has no solidary antecedent and it closes when another of its terms has no consequent. To take a deliberately trivial example, to order a drink, to receive it, to drink it, to pay for it - these various functions constitute an evidently closed sequence, for it is not possible to put something beforet he ordering of the drink or to put something after the payment without leaving the homogeneous group "Having a drink." The sequence is in fact always nameable. Determining the major functions of the folktale, Propp, then Bremond, have already been led to name them (Fraud, Betrayal, Struggle, Contact, Seduction, etc.); the nominative operation is just as inevitable for trivial sequences, which one may call "micro-sequences," those which frequently form the finest texture of the narrative fabric. Are these nominations solely the province of the analyst? In other words, are they purely metalinguistic? No doubt they are, since they deal with the narrative code, but we can suppose that they belong to a metalanguage internal to the reader (to the auditor) himself, who apprehends any logical succession of actions as a nominal whole: to read is to name; to hear is not only to perceive a language, it is also to construct it. The titles of sequences are rather analogous to those cover-words of translation machines, which more or less adequately cover a wide variety of meanings and nuances. The language of narrative, which is in ourselves, initially involves these essential rubrics: the closed logic which structures a sequence is indissolubly linked to its name: any function which inaugurates a seduction, say, prescribes upon its appearance, in the name which it produces, the whole process of seduction that we have learned from all the narratives which have formed in us the language of narrative.
Whatever its lack of importance, being composed of a small number of nuclei (i.e., actually, of "dispatchers"), the sequence always involves moments of risk, and this is what justifies our analysis of it: it might seem absurd to constitute as a sequence the logical succession of tiny actions which compose the offer of a cigarette (to offer, to accept, to light, to smake); but the fact is that precisely at each of these points an alternative, hence a freedom of meaning, is possible: Du Pont, James Bond's partner, offers him a light from his lighter, but Bond refuses; the meaning of this bifurcation is that Bond instinctively fears a booby-trapped device.
[Footnote 35] It is quite possbile to identify, even at this infinitesimal level, an opposition of the paradigmatic type, if not between two terms, at least between two poles of the sequence: the sequence Offer of a cigarette displays, while suspending it, the paradigm Danger/Safety (shown by Shcheglov in his analysis of the Sherlock Holmes cycle), Suspicion/Protection, Aggressiveness/Friendliness.
Hence the sequence is, so to speak, a threatened logical unit: that is its justification a minimo. It is also founded a maximo: closed over its functions, subsumed under a name, the sequence itself constitutes a new unit, ready to function as the simple term of another, large sequence. Here is a micro-sequence: hold out a hand, shake the hand, release the hand; this Greeting becomes a simple function: on the one side, it takes the part of an index (Du Pont's slackness, Bond's distaste), and on the other, it forms in toto the term of a larger sequence called Meeting, whose other terms (approach, halt, interpellation, greeting, sitting down) can themselves be micro-sequences. A whole network of suborgations thus structures the narrative, from the tiniest matrices to the largest functions. We are here concerned, of course, with a hierarchy which remains internal to the functional level: it is only when it has been possible to enlarge the narrative, step by step, from Du Pont's cigarette to Bond's battle against Goldfinger, that the functional analysis is concluded: the pyramid of functions then touches the following level (that of Actions). There is both a syntax internal to the sequences and a (subrogating) syntax of the sequences among themselves. The first episode of Goldfinger thus assumes a "stemmatic" aspect:The representation is obviously analytical. The reader perceives a linear succession of terms. But what must be noted is that the terms of several sequences can very well be imbricated one within the other: a sequence is not finished when, already, inset, the initial term of a new sequence can appear: the sequences move in counterpoint;
[Footnote 36] This counterpoint was anticipated by the Russian Formalists, who outlined its typology; it suggests the main "intricate" structures of the sentence (cf. infra, V, 1).
functionally the narrative structure is "fugued": this is how narrative simultaneously "holds" and "aspires." The imbrication of the sequences can only be allowed to cease, within a single work, by a phenomenon of radical rupture if the several closed blocks (or "stemmas") which then compose it are somehow recuperated at the higher level of Actions (of characters): Goldfinger is composed of three functionally independent episodes, for their functional stemmas twice cease to communicate: there is no sequential relation between the episode of the swimming pool and that of Fort Knox; but there remains an actantial relation, for the characters (and consequently the structure of their relations) are thesame. Here we recognize the epic ("group of several fables"): the epic is a narrative broken on the functional level but unitary on the actantial level (as can be verified in the Odyssey or in Brecht's "epic theater"). Hence we must grown the level of functions (which furnishes the main part of the narrative syntagm) by a higher level, from which, step by step, the units of the first level draw their meaning, and which is the level of Actions.


1. Toward a structural status of characters
In Aristotelian poetics, the notion of character is secondary, entirely subsidiary to the notion of action: there can be stories without "characters," Aristotle says; there cannot be characters without a story. This view was adopted by the classical theoreticians (Vossius). Later, the character, who hithero was merely a name, the agent of an action,
[Footnote 37] Let us not forget that classical tragedy still knows only "actors," not "characters."
assumed a psychological consistency, became an individual, a "person," in short a fully constituted being, even when he performed no action, and of course, even before acting,
[Footnote 38] The "character-person" prevails in the bourgeous novel: in War and Peace, Nicholas Rostov is from the start a good boy, loyal, courageous, ardent; Prince Andrew is a disillusioned man of noble birth, etc.: what happens to them illustrates them, it does not constitute them.
the character ceased to be subordinate to the action, embodying from the start a psychological essence; such essences could be subject to an inventory, whose purest form was the bourgeois theatre's list of "roles" (the coquette, the noble father, etc.). From its first appearance, structural analysis has shown the greatest reluctance to treat the character as an essence, even to classify it; as Todorov observes, Tomashevsky went so far as to deny the character any narrative importance whatever, a point of view whuch he subsequently modified. Without going so far as to withdraw characters from his analysis, Propp reduced them to a simple typology, based not on psychology but on the unity of the actions the narrative imparted to them (Giver of a magical object, Helper, Villain, etc.).
Since Propp, the character continues to raise the same problem for the structural analysis of narrative: on one hand, the characters (whatever they are called: dramatis personae or actants) form a necessary plan of description, outside which the trivial "actions" reported cease to be intelligible, so that we might say that there does not exist a single narrative the world over without "characters,"
[Footnote 39] If one part of contemporary literature has attacked the "character," it has done so not in order to destroy it (an impossibility) but to depersonalize it, a very different affair. A novel apparently without characters, such as Philippe Soller's Drame, entirely subjugates the person to language, but nonetheless retains a fundamental play of actants, confronting the very action of speech. Such literature still knows a "subject," but this "subject" is henceforth that of languag.
or at least without "agents"; but on the other hand, these very numerous "agents" can be neither described nor classified in terms of "persons," whether because we consider the "person" as a purely historical form limited to certain genres (though the best known ones), so that we must set aside the enormous case of all the narratives (folktales, contemporary texts) which involve agents but not persons; or because we regard the "person" as nothing but a critical rationalization imposed by our period on pure narrative agents. Structural analysis, scrupulous not to define character in terms of psychological essences, has sought till now, through various hypotheses, to define character not as a "being" but as a "participant." For Claude Bremond, each character can be the agent of sequences of actions which are proper to it (Fraud, Seduction); when the same sequence implicates two characters (as is usually the case), the sequence involves two perspectives or, one might say, two names (what is Fraud for one is Gullibility for the other); in short, each character, even a secondary one, is the hero of his own sequnece. Todorov, analyzing a "psychological" novel (Les Liaisons dangereuses), starts not from character-persons but from three main relations in which they can engage and which he calls basic predicates (love, communication, help); these relations are subjected by the analysis to two kinds of rules: of derivation when it is a matter of accounting for other relations and of actions when it is a matter of describing the transformation of these relations in the course of the story: there are many characters in Les Liaisons dangereuses, but "what is said of them" (their predicates) can be classified.
[Footnote 40] Littérature et Signification, Paris: Larousse, 1967.
Finally, Greimas has proposed describing and classifying the characters of narrative not according to what they are but according to what they do (whence their name, actants), insofar as they participate in three main semantic axes, which we identify moreover in the sentence (subject, object, indirect object, adjunct) and which are communication, desire (or quest) and ordeal;
[Footnote 41] Sémantique structurale, op. cit., p. 129ff.
since this participation is organized in pairs, the infinite world of characters is also subject to a paradigmatic structure (Subject/Object, Giver/Receiver, Helper/Opponent), projected throughout the narrative; and since the actant defines a class, it can be filled with different actors, mobilized according to the rules of multiplication, substitution, or deficiency.
These three conceptions have many points in common. The main one, we repeat, is to define the character by its participation in a sphere of actions, such spheres being few in number, typical, classifiable; this is why we have here called the second level of description, though that of the characters, the level of Actions: this word must therefore not be understood here in the sense of the trivial actions which form the fabric of the first level, but in the sense of the major articulations of praxis (to desire, to communicate, to struggle).

2. The problem of the subject
The problems raised by a classification of the characters in narrative are not yet properly solved. Of course there is agreement that the countless characters of narrative can be subject to rules of substitution that, even without a work, one and the same figure can absorb different characters;
[Footnote 42] Psychoanalysis has widely accredited these operations of condensation - already Mallarmé has said of Hamlet: "Supernumeraries, there must be! for in the ideal painting of the stage everything moves according to a symbolic reciprocity of types among themselves or relative to a single figure" (Crayonné au Théâtre, in Ouvres complètes, op. cit., p. 301).
on the other hand, the actantial model proposed by Greimas (and adopted in a different perspective by Todorov) seems to stand the test of a great number of narratives: like every structural model, it has value less for its canonical form (a matrix of sik actants) than for the regulated transformations (deficiencies, confusions, duplications, substitutions) to which it lends itself, thereby holding out hope for an actantial typology of narrative;
[Footnote 43] For example: narratives in which object and subject are identified in the same character are narratives of the quest for oneself, for one's own identity (The Golden Ass); narratives in which the subject pursues successive objects (Madame Bovary), etc.
however, when the matrix has a high classifying power (as is the case with Greimas's actants), it accounts poorly for the multiplicity of participations when these are analyzed in terms of perspectives; and when these perspectives are respected (in Bremond's description), the system of characters remains too segmented; the reduction proposed by Todorov avoids both dangers, but has so far been applied to only one narrative. All this can be readily and harmoniously resolved, it would seem. The real difficulty raised by the classification of characters is the place (hence the existence) of the subject in any actantial matrix, whatever its formula. Who is the subject (the hero) of a narrative? Is there - or is there not - a privileged class of actors? Our novel has accustomed us to accentuating in one way or another, sometimes intricately (negatively), one character among the others. But this prerogative is far from being typical of all narrative literature. Thus, many narratives bring to grips, in their contention for a goal, two adversaries whose "actions" are thereby equalized; the subject is then really double, without our being any further enabled to reduce it by substitution; this may even be a common archaic form, as if the narrative, in the fashion of certain languages, had also known a duel of characters. This dues is all the more interesting in that it relates the narrative to the structure of certain (very modern) games in which two equal adversaries seek to gain possession of an object placed in circulation by a referee; this schema recalls the actantial matrix proposed by Greimas, which is hardly surprising if we realize that the game, being a language, also derives from the same symbolic structure that we recognize in language and in narrative: the game too is a sentence.
[Footnote 44] Umberto Eco's analysis of the James Bond cycle in Communications, #8 refers more to games than to language.
If then we keep a privileged class of actors (the subject of the quest, of the desire, of the action), it is at least necessary to inflect it by subjecting this actant to the very categories of the person, not psychological but grammatical: once again, we shall have to turn to linguistics in order to describe and classify the personal (I/you) or impersonal (he), singular, dual, or plural instance of the action. It will be - perhaps - the grammatical categories of the person (accessible in our pronouns) which will provide the key to the actional level. But since these categories can be defined only in relation to the instance of discourse, and not to that of reality,
[Footnote 45] See the analyses of person given by Benveniste, in Problèmes de linguistique générale, op. cit.
the characters, as units of the actional level, find their meaning (their intelligibility) only if we integrate them into the third level of description, which we shall here call the level of Narration (as opposed to Functions and to Actions).


1. Narrative communication
Just as there is, within narrative, a major function of exchange (distributed between a giver and a receiver), so, homologically, narrative, as object, is the stake of a communication: there is a giver of the narrative, there is a receiver of the narrative. As we know, in linguistic communication, I and you are absolutely presupposed by each other; in the same way, there cannot be a narrative without a narrator and without an auditor (or reader). This may be commonplace, but it is as yet undeveloped. Of course the role of the sender has been abundantly paraphrased (we study the "author" of a novel, without wondering, moreover, if he is in fact the "narrator"), but when we turn to the reader, literary theory is much more modest. As a matter of fact, the problem is not to introspect the motives of the narrator nor the effects which the narration produces upon the reader; it is to describe the code through which narrator and reader are signified through the narrative itself. The signs of the narrator seem at first glance more visible and more numerous than the signs of the reader (a narrative more frequently says I than you); in reality, the latter are simply more intricate than the former; thus, each time the narrator, ceasing to "represent," reports phenomena which he knows perfectly well but which the reader does not, there occurs, by a signifying deficiency, a sign of reading, for it would be meaningless for the narrator to offer a piece of information to himself: "Leo was the owner of this joint,"
Double Bang à Bangkok. The sentence functions as a wink to the reader, as if he were being given a sign of recognition. On the contrary, the statement "So Leo had just left" is a sign of the narrator, for this belongs to a reasoning performed by a "person."
we are told in a first-person novel: this is a sign of the reader, close to what Jakobson calls the conative function of communication. Lacking an inventory, we shall nonetheless leave aside for the momnet the signs of reception (though they are also important), to say a word about the signs of narration.
[Footnote 47] Todorov moreover deals with the image of the narrator and the image of the reader in "Les catégories du récit littéraire", op. cit.
Who is the giver of the narrative? Three conceptions seem to have been formulated so far. The first considers that the narrative is produced by a person (in the fully psychological meaning of the word); this person has a name, he is the author, in whom are ceaselessly exchanged the "personality" and the art of a fully identified individual, who periodically takes up his pen to write a story: the narrative (notably the novel) is then merely the expression of an I which is external to it. The second conception makes the narrator into a sort of total, apparently impersonal consciousness who produces the story from a superior point of view, that of God:
[Footnote 48] "When will someone write from the point of view of a supreme joke, that is, the way the good Lord sees things from on high?" (Flaubert, Préface à la vie d'écrivain, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1965, p. 91).
the narrator is at once internal to his characters (since he knows everything that is happening in them) and external (since he is never identified with one more than with the other). Tthe third, most recent conception (Henry James, Sartre) states that the narrator must limit his narrative to what the characters can observe or know: everything occurs as if each character were in turn the sender of the narrative. These three conceptions are equally difficult, insofar as all three seem to regard the narrator and the characters as real, "living" persons (we recognize the unfailing power of this literary myth), as if the narrative originally determined itself as its referenital level (it is a matter of equally "realist" conceptions). Now, at least from our point of view, narrator and characters are essentially "paper beings"; the (material) author of a narrative cannot in any way be identified with its narratar;
[Footnote 49] A distinction all the more necessary, on the level which concerns us, in that, historically, a considerable mass of narratives have no author (oral narratives, folktales, epics entrusted to bards, to reciters, etc.).
the signs of the narrator are immanent to the narrative, and consequently quite accessible to a semiologic analysis; but to decide that the author himself (whether he parades himself, hides, or withdraws) possesses "signs" with which he strews his work, we must suppose betwen the "person" and his language a descriptive relation which makes the author a full subject and the narrative the instrumental expression of that plenitude: this is unacceptable to structural analysis: who speaks (in the narrative) is not who writes (in life) and who writes is not who is.
[Footnote 50] Jacques Lacan: "Is the subject I speak of when I speak the same as he who speaks?"
As a matter of fact, narration strictly speaking (or the code of the narrator) knows, like language, only two sign systems: personal and apersonal; these two systems do not necessarily offer the linguistic marks attached to the person and to the non-person; there may be, for example, narratives or at least episodes written in the third person whose true instance is nonetheless in the first person. How to determine in this case? It suffices to rewrite the narrative (or the passage), substituting "he" for "I": so long as this operation involves no other alterations in the discourse besides the change in grammatical pronouns, it is clear that we remain within a system of the person: the entire beginning of Goldfingr, though written in the third person, is in fact spoken by James Bond; for the instance to change, the rewriting must become impossible; thus the sentence: "he noticed a man of about fifty, still young-looking, etc.," is entirely within the person system, despite the "he" ("I, James Bond, noticed, etc.") but the narrative statement "the clink of ice against the glass seemed to give Bond a sudden inspiration" cannot be within the personal system, by reason of the verb "to seem," which becomes the sign of the apersonal system (and not by reason of "he"). It is clear that the apersonal system is the traditional mode of narrative, language having elaborated a whole temporal system proper to narrative (articulated on the aorist),
[Footnote 51] Emile Benveniste, op. cit.
meant to eliminate the present of the speaker: "In narrative," Benveniste says, "no one speaks." Yet the personal instance (in more or less disguised forms) has gradually invaded narrative, narration being referred to the hic et nunc of locution (this is the definition of the personal system); hence we see today many narratives, and of the most ordinary kind, mixing at an extremely rapid rate, frequently within the confines of a single sentence, the personal and the apersonal; for example, this sentence from Goldfinger:
His eyes were fixed on those of Du Pont,
who didn't know where to look,
for that stare combined candor,
irony and self-deprecation
The mixture of systems is obviously experienced as an accommodation, one that can become a kind of deception: a detective story by Agatha Christie (The Sittaford Mystery) sustains the mystery only by deceiving us as to the person of the narration: a character is described from within, whereas he is already the killer:
[Footnote 52] Personal mode: "It even seemed to Burnaby that nothing looked changed," etc. The device is even cruder in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, since here the killer actually says I.
everything happens as if, within the same person, there were a witness's consciousness, immanent to the discourse, and a killer's consciousness, immanent to the referent: the abusive alternation of the two systems is what enables the mystery. Hence we understand that at the opposite pole, of "serious" literature, the rigor of the chosen system should be made into a necessary condition of the work - though still without being able to honor it all the way.
Such rigor - sought by certain contemporary writers - is not necessarily an esthetic imperative; what is called the psychological novel is usually marked by a mixtuce of the two systems, successively mobilizing the signs of the non-person and those of the person; "psychology" cannot, in fact - paradoxically - accommodate a pure system of the person, for by confining the entire narrative to the mere instance of the discourse, or one might say to the act of locution, it is the very content of the person which is threatened: the psychological person (referential order) has no relation with the linguistic person, never defined by arrangements, intentions, or features, but only by (coded) place within the discourse. It is this formal person whom we are attempting currently to speak of; it is a matter of an important subversion (moreover the public has the impression that no one is writing "novels" any longer) for it attempts to shift the narrative from the purely constative order (which it occupide till now) to the performative order, according to which the meaning of an utterance is the very action which utters it:
[Footnote 53] On the performative, cf. Todorov, "Les catégories du récit littéraire," op. cit. - The classic example of a performative is the statement: I declare war, which neither "constates" nor "describes" anything, but exhausts its meaning in its own utterance (in contrast to the statement: The kind has declared war, which is constative and descriptive).
today, to write is not "to tell," it is to say that one is telling, and to shuft the entire referente ("what one says") to this act of locution; this is why a part of contemporary literature is no longer descriptive, but transitive, attempting to accomplish in speech a present so pure that the entire discourse is identified with the act which delivers it, the whole logos being confined - or extended - to a lexis.
[Footnote 54] For the logos/lexis opposition, see Genette, "Frontières du récit," op. cit.

2. Narrative situation
The narrational level is thus occupied by the signs of narrativity, the group of operators which reintegrate functions and actions within narrative communication, articulated around its giver and its receiver. Some of these signs have already been studied: in oral literatures, we know certain codes of recitation (metrical formulas, conventional protocols of presentation), and we know that the "author" is not the one who invents the best stories, but the one who best masters the code whose use he shares with the listeners: in such literatures, the narrational level is so distinct, its rules so constraining, that it is difficult to conceive of a "tale" without coded signs of narrative ("Once upon a time," etc.). In our written literatures, the "forms of discourse" (which are actually signs of narrativity) were very early identified: classification of the author's modes of intervention, outlined by Plato, adopted by Diomedes,
[Footnote 55] Genus activum vel imitativum (no intervention on the part of the narrator in the discourse: theater, for example); genus ennarativum (only the poet speaks: senteniae, didactic poems); genus commune (mixture of the two genres: opic poems).
coding of the beginnings and end of narratives, definition of the various styles of representation (oratio directa, oratio indirecta, with its inquit, oratio tecta),
[Footnote 56] H. Sörenson, in Language and Society (Studies presented to Jansen), op. cit.), p. 150.
study of "points of view," etc. All these elements belong to the narrational level. To them must obviously be added writing as a whole, for its role is not to "transmit" the narrative, but to parade it.
It is actually in a paradigm of narrative that the units of the lower levels are integrated: the ultimate form of narrative, as narrative, transcends its contents and its strictly narrative forms (functions and actions). This explains why the narrational code should be the final level which our analysis can reach, unless it departs from the narrative-as-object, i.e., unless it transgresses the rule of immanence which establishes it. Narration can actually receive its meaning only from the world which makes use of it: beyond the narrational level begins the world, i.e., other systems (social, economic, ideological), whose terms are no longer only the narratives, but elements of another substance (historical phenomena, determinations, behaviors, etc.). Just as linguistics halts at the sentence, the analysis of narrative halts at discourse: thereafter we must shift to another semiotics. Linguistics knows this kind of frontier, which it has already postulated - if not explored - under the name of situation. Halliday defines "situation" (in relation to a sentence) as "the associated non-linguistic factors";
[Footnote 57] M. A. K. Halliday, op. cit., p. 4.
Prieto as "the group of phenomena known by the receiver at the moment of the semic act and independently of this act."
[Footnote 58] L. J. Prieto, Principes de noologie, Paris & The Hague, 1964, p. 36.
In the same way we can say that every narrative is dependent on a "narrative situation," a group of protocols according to which the narrative is "consumed." In "archaic" societies, the narrative situation is strongly coded;
[Footnote 59] The tale, as Lucien Sebag observed, can be told at any time and in any place, but not the mythic narrative.
nowadays, only avant-garde literature still dreams of protocols of reading, spectacular in the case of Mallarmé, who wanted the book to be recited in public according to a precise combinatory process, typographic in the case of Butor, who tries to accompany the book with its own signs. But, in ordinary cases, our society evades as carefully as possible the coding of the narrative situation: countless are the narrative devices which attempt to naturalize the subsequent narrative by feigning to assign it a natural occasion for its origin, and, so to speak, to "disinaugurate" it: novels in letters, manuscripts supposedly recovered, the author who has encountered the narrator, films which start their story before the titles. The reluctance to parade its codes marks bourgeois society and the mass culture which has issued from it: each demands signs which do not seem to be signs. Yet this is, so to speak, only a structural epiphenomenon: however familiar, however casual the act of opening a novel or a newspaper or turning on a television program today, nothing can keep this modest action from setting up in us, at one blow and in its entirety, the narrative code we are going to need. The narrational level thereby has an ambiguous role: contiguous with the narrative situation (and sometimes even including it), it opens out onto the world where narrative is undone (consumed); but at the same time, crowning the previous levels, it closes narrative, definitively constitutes it as the speech of a language which foresees and bears its own metalanguage.


Language proper can be defined by the concurrence of two fundamental processes: articulation, or segmentation, which produces units (this is what Benveniste calls form), and integration, which collects these units in units of a higher rank (this is meaning). This double process is recognizable in the language of narrative, which also knows an articulation and an integration, a form and a meaning.

1. Distortion and expansion
The form of narrative is essentially marked by two powers: that of distending its signs throughout the story, and that of inserting within these distortions unforeseeable expansions. These two powers appear to be liberties; but the characteristic of narrative is precisely to include these "deviations" in its language.
[Footnote 60] Valéry; "Formally, the novel is close to the dream; both can be defined by the consideration of this curious property: that all their deviations belong to them."
The distortion of signs exists in language, where Bally has studied it, apropos of French and German;
[Footnote 61] Charles Bally, Linguistique générale et Linguistique française, 4th ed., Berne, 1965.
dystaxia occurs when the signs (of a message) are no longer simply juxtaposed, when (logical) linearity is disturbed (the predicate preceding the subject, for example). A notable form of dystaxia occurs when the parts of the same sign are separated by other signs throughout the chain of the message (for instance, the negation ne jamais and the verb a pardonné in the sentence: elle ne nous a jamais pardonné): the sign being split up, its signified is distributed under several signifiers, distant from one another, each of which taken separately cannot be understood. As we have already seen apropos of the functional level, this is exactly what happens in narrative: the units of a sequence, though forming a whole on the level of this sequence itself, can be separated from one another by the insertion of units which come from other sequences: as has been said, the structure of the functional level is fugued.
[Footnote 62] Cf. Lévi-Strauss (Structural Anthropology, op. cit., p. 211): "Relations pertaining to the same bundle may appear diachronically at remote intervals." - Greimas has insisted on the separation of functions (Sémantique structurale, op. cit.).
According to Bally's terminology, which opposes the synthetic languages, in which dystaxia predominates (such as German), and the analytic languages, which show a greater respect for logical linearity and monosemy (such as French), narrative is a strongly synthetic language, essentially based on a syntax of embedding and enveloping: each point of the narrative spreads in several directions at once: when James Bond orders a whisky while waiting for his plane, this whisky, as index, has a polysemic value, it is a kind of symbolic node which gathers several signifieds (modernity, wealth, leisure); but as a functional unit, the ordering of a whisky must traverse, step by step, many relays (consumption, waiting, departure, etc.) in order to find its final meaning: the unit is "taken over" by the entire narrative, but also the narrative "holds together" only by the distortion and the spread of its units.
Generalized distortion gives narrative language its characteristic mark: a phenomenon of pure logic, since it is based on an - often remote - relation, and mobilizing a kind of confidence in intellective memory, it constantly substitutes meaning for the pure and simple copy of the events related; according to "life," it is unlikely that, in an encounter, the fact of sitting down would not immediately follow the invitation to do so; in narrative, these units, contiguous from a mimetic point of view, can be separated by a long succession of insertions belonging to entirely different functional spheres: thus is established a sort of logical time, which has little relation with real time, the apparent pulverization of the units being always firmly maintained under the logic which unites the nuclei of the sequence. "Suspense" is obviously only a privileged, or if one prefers, exasperated form of distortion: on the one hand, by keeping a sequence open (by empathic processes of delay and reinauguration0, it reinforces the contact with the reader (the hearer), posseses a manifestly phatic function; and on the other hand, it offers him the threat of an incomplete sequence, of an open paradigm (if, as we believe, every sequence has two poles), i.e., of a logical disturbance, and it is this disturbance which is consumed with anxiety and pleasure (especially since it is always, ultimately, repaired); "suspense" is therefore a game with structure intended, so to speak, to threaten and to glorify it: it constitutes a veritable "thrill" of the intelligible: by representing order (and no longer series) in its fragility, it fulfills the very idea of language: what seems most pathetic is also the most intellectual: suspense grips the mind, not the guts.
[Footnote 63] J. P. Faye, apropos of Klossowski's Baphomet: "Rarely has fiction (or narrative) so clearly revealed what it always, necessarily, is: an experimentation of "thought" upon "life" (Tel Quel, #22, p. 88).
What can be separated can also be filled. Distended, the functional nuclei present intercalary spaces which can be loaded almost to infinity; these interstices can be filled with a very great number of catalyses; yet, here, a new typology can intervene, for the catalytic freedom can be regulated according to the content of the functions (certain functions are more widely exposed than others to catalysis: Waiting, for example),
[Footnote 64] Logically, Waiting has only two nuclei: 1. waiting posited; 2. waiting satisfied or disappointed; but the first nucleus can be broadly catalyzed, sometimes indefinitely (Waiting for Godot): another - extreme - ggame with structure.
and according to the substance of the narrative (writing has possibilities of diaeresis - and therefore of acatalysis - much superior to those of film: we can "cut" a narrated gesture more easily than the same gesture visualized).
[Footnote 65] Valéry: "Proust divides up - and gives us the sensation of being able to do so indefinitely - what other writers are accustomed to pass over."
The catalytic power of narrative has for a corollary its elliptical power. On the one hand, a function (he had a good meal) can economize all the virtual catalyses it harbors (the detail of the meal),
[Footnote 66] Here again, there are specifications according to substance: literature has an incomparable elliptical power - which the cinema does not.
on the other, it is possible to reduce a sequence to its nuclei, and a hierarchy of sequences to its higher terms, without altering the meaning of the story: a narrative can be identified, even if we reduce its total syntagm to its actants and to its main functions, so that they result from the gradual assumption of the functional units.
[Footnote 67] This reduction does not necessarily correspond to the segmentation of the book into chapters; on the contrary it seems that increasingly the role of the chapters is to set up breaks, i.e. suspense (technique of the serial).
In other words, the narrative is susceptible to summary (what used to be called the argument). At first glance, this is the case with all discourse; but each discourse has its own type of summary; the lyric poem, for example, being only the vast metaphor of a single signified,
[Footnote 68] Nicholas Ruwet in Langage, Musique, Poésie, op. cit., p. 199: "The poem can be understood as the result of a series of transformations applied to the proposition 'I love you.'" Ruwet is alluding here to Freud's analysis of paranoiac delirium apropos of President Schreber ("Psychoanalytic Notes on an Autobiographical Account of a Case of Paranoia," Standard Edition, vol. 12).
is summarized by giving this signified, and the operation is so drastic that it cancels out the poem's identity (summarized, lyric poems are reduced to the signifieds Love and Death): whence the conviction that a poem cannot be summarized. On the contrary, the summary of narrative (if it is conducted according to structural criteria) maintains the individuality of the message. In other words, the narrative is translatable, without fundamental damage: what is not translatable is determined only on the last, narrational level: the signifiers of narrativity, for example, can with difficulty pass from novel to film, for film knows personal treatment only exceptionally,
[Footnote 69] Once again, there is no relation between the grammatical "person" of the narrator and the "personality" (or subjectivity) which a film director engages in his way of presenting a story: the camera-I (continually identified with the eye of a character) is an exceptional phenomenon in the history of cinema.
and the last layer of the narrational level, to wit writing, cannot pass from one language to the other (or does so very poorly). The translatability of narrative results from the structure of its language; by a converse path, it would therefore be possible to recognize this structure by distinguishing and by classifying the (variously) translatable and untranslatable elements of a narrative: the (present) existence of different and concurrent semiotics (literature, cinema, comics, radio, television) would greatly facilitate this kind of analysis.

2. Mimesis and meaning
In the language of narrative, the second important process is integration: what has been disjoined at a certain level (a sequence, for example) is often united again at a higher level (a sequence hierarchically important, total signified of scattered indices, action of a class of characters); the complexity of a narrative can be compared to that of a data flow chart, capable of integrating both backward and forward impulses; or, more exactly, it is integration, in its various forms, which permits compensating for the apparently unmasterable complexity of the units on one level; it is integration which permits orienting the comprehension of discontinuous, contiguous, and heterogeneous elements (as they are given by the syntagm, which knows only one dimension: succession); if we follow Greimas and call the unit of signification isotopy (that unit which impregnates a sign and its context), we shall say that integration is a factor of isotopy: each (integrative) level gives its isotopy to the units of the level below, keeping the meaning from dangling, as it would not fail to do, if we did not perceive the staggering of the levels. However, the narrative integration is not presented in a serenely regular fashion, like a fine building which would lead by symmetrical baffles of an infinity of simple elements to several complex masses; very often, one unit can have two correlates, one on one level (function of a sequence), the other on another (index referring to an actant); the narrative thus presents itself as a succession of mediate and immediate elements, powerfully imbricated; dystaxia orients a "horizontal" reading, but integration superimposes a "vertical" reading: there is a kind of structural "limping," a kind of incessant play of potentials, whose different "falls" give the narrative its dynamic or its energy: each unit is perceived in its surfacing and in its depth, and that is how the narrative "proceeds": by the rivalry of these two paths, the structure is ramified, proliferates, is revealed - and recovers itself: what is new does not cease to be regular. There is, of course, a freedom of narrative (as there is a freedom of every speaker with regard to his language), but this freedom is literally confined: between the strong code of language and the strong code of narrative, is established, so to speak, a hollow or a through: the sentence. If we try to comprehend the whole of a written narrative, we see that it starts from the most powerfully coded (the phonematic, or even merismatic level), gradually loosens until it reaches the sentence, extreme point of combinatory freedom, then begins once more to tighten, starting from the small groups of sentences (micro-sequences), still very free, up to the major actions, which form a strong and limited code: the creativity of narrative (at least in its mythic appearance of "life") would thus be located between two codes, the linguistic and the translinguistic. This is why we can say, paradoxically, that art (in the romantic sense of the word) is a matter of statement of detail, while imagination is a mastery of the code: "It will be found in fact," wrote Poe, "that the ingenious are always fanciful, and the truly imaginative never otherwise than analytic ..."
[Footnote 70] The Murder in the Rue Morgue.
Hence we must discount the "realism" of narrative. Receiving a phone call in the office where he is on duty, Bond "reflects," the author tells us: "Communications with Hong-Kong are as bad as they always were and just as difficult to obtain." Neither Bond's "reflection" nor the poor quality of telephone connections are the real information here; such contingency may give the illusion of "life," but the true piece of information, the one which will germinate later, is the localization of the phone call, to wit, Hong Kong. Thus in all narrative, imitation remains contingent;
[Footnote 71] Gérard Genette (cf. "Frontières du réceti," op. cit.) correctly reduces mimesis to the fragments of dialogue reported; yet even such dialogue always harbors an intelligible and non-mimetic function.
the function of narrative is not to "represent," it is to constitute a spectacle which still remains very mysterious to us, but which cannot be of a mimetic order; the "reality" of a sequence is not in the "natural" succession of the actions which compose it, but in the logic which is revealed and risked and satisfied there; we might say in another fashion that the origin of a sequence is not the observation of reality, but the necessity to vary and transcent the first form available to man, i.e., repetition: a sequence is essentially a whole at the heart of which nothing is repeated; logic here has a liberating value - and the whole narrative with it; it may be that men ceaselessly reinject into narrative what they have known, what they have lived; at least they do so in a form which has triumphed over repetition and instituted the model of a becoming. Narrative does not show, does not imitate; the passion which can excite us upon reading a novel is not that of a "vision" (indeed, we "see" nothing), it is that the meaning, i.e., of a higher order of relation, which also possesses its emotions, its hopes, its threats, its victories: "what happens" in narrative is, from the referential (real) point of view, literally, nothing,
[Footnote 72] Mallarmé: "... A dramatic work shows the succession of the externals of action without any moment's keeping its reality and without there happening, ultimately, anything at all" (Crayonné au théâtre, Oeuvres Complètes, op. cit., p. 296).
what "takes place" is language alone, the adventure of language, whose coming never ceases to be celebrated. Though we know little more about the origin of narrative than about that of language, we can reasonably suggest that narrative is a contemporary monologue, a creation, apparently, posterior to that of dialogue; in any case, without wanting to strain the phylogenetic hypothesis, it may be significant that it is at the same moment (around the age of three) that the child "invents" the sentence, narrative, and the Oedipus complex.

Communications, 1966

Roland Barthes, "Sissejuhatus jutustuse strukturaalsesse analüüsi"

Roland Barthesi sissejuhatus jutustuse strukturaalsesse analüüsi jäljendab Roman Jakobsoni lingvistilist strukturalismi ja eristab tähenduse- ja kirjelduse tasandeid (vt Barthes 1985: 100-101), milleks jutustuse analüüsis on funktsioonide, tegevuste ja jutustuse tasandid. Barthes rivistab lause lingvistilise kirjelduse raames järgnevaid tasandeid: foneemiline, fonoloogiline, grammatiline ja kontekstuaalne (samas, 101). Jakobsoni enda käsitluses on verbaalsed tasandid järgnevad: morfeemiline, leksikaalne, süntaktiline ja fraseoloogiline (Jakobson 1971[1956a]: 255). Sama skeemi on matkitud ka Tartu-Moskva koolkonna kultuurisemiootilistes teesides, kus järjekord on järgnev: foneemide tasand; foneemigruppide (silpide, morfeemide) tasand; leksikaalne ehk sõna tasand; lause semantilis-süntaktilise struktuuri ehk fraseoloogia tasand; suuremate semantiliste klotside tasand; ja teksti üldise intentsiooni tasand (vt Lotman jt 2013[1973]: 67).

Tähendab, tasanditepõhine lähenemine on strukturalismis laialtlevinud ja joonealuses märkuses omistab Barthes selle Praha koolkonnale ja Benvenistele (vt Barthes 1985: 101; jm 12). Tasandipõhine lähenemine käib sealhulgas käsikäes põhimõttega, mida Barthes sõnastab järgmiselt: "need tasandid on hierarhilises seoses, sest kui igal [tasandil] oleksid oma ühikud ja oma korrelatsioonid, mis teeks vajalikuks iga [tasandi] iseseisva kirjelduse, ei saa ükski tasand iseenesest toota tähendust: iga ühik mis kuulub kindlale tasandile omastab tähenduse ainult [juhul] kui see on integreeritud kõrgema tasandiga" (Barthes 1985: 101). Laiemalt on see tuntud kui "topeltartikulatsioon", ehk "keele koostisosade strukturaalne hierarhia", mis vaatleb pelgalt eristavate (foneemiliste) ja tähistavate (grammatiliste) ühikute lõimumist kodeeritud ühikute (sõnade) ja kodeeritud maatriksite (lausete) mustris (Jakobson 1971[1969c]: 673).

Barthesi strukturaalne lähenemine jutustuse analüüsile seega eeldab, et jutustus on nagu keel, just nagu Lotmani kultuurisemiootika eeldab, et kultuur on nagu keel. Jutustuse kvaasi-keeleliste tasandite eristamisel näeme seega analoogiat keele ülesehitusele, milles funktsioonid, tegevused ja jutustus lõimuvad omavahel hierarhilisel viisil. Mida need tasandid endast täpsemalt kujutavad?

Funktsioon on kõige lühemas formulatsioonis "jutustuse ühik" (Barthes 1985: 104). Barthes esitab näite Flauberti romaanist Un Coeur simple, milles kellegi tütrel on papagoi. Papogoi funktsioneerib siin nagu "seeme" mis viljastub romaanis kunagi hiljem. Viitega Tomaševski artikklile "Temaatika" esitab Barthes ühiku funktsiooni analoogiana Tomaševski kompositsioonilise motiveeringuga: "kui jutustuse algul räägitakse naela seina löömisest, siis jutustuse lõpul peab kangelane selle otsas rippuma" (Tomaševski 2014a[1925]: 158). St jutustuse ühikud on infokillud ja viitajad millel on jutustuses mingi funktsioon.

Tegevuste tasand ehitub hierarhiliselt funktsioonide tasandi peale ja kujutab endast kirjelduse teist tasandit. Olulisim on siin välja tuua tõik, et "[tegevusi] ei tuleks mõista kui triviaalseid tegevusi mis moodustavad esimese tasandi kanga, vaid praksise suuremate artikulatsioonide tähendused (ihaldada, suhelda, võidelda)" (Barthes 1985: 120). St tegevuse tasandit ei puuduta mitte kõik tegevused mida jutustus sisaldab, vaid just funktsionaalsed (motiveeritud) tegevused. Veel enam, kuna tegevust ei saa eraldada tegutsejast (Barthes pühendab sellele teemale mitu lehekülge), ilmnevad kõrgemal tasandil isikukategooriad ehk tegelased, analoogias Greimasi aktantsiaalse lähenemisega (nt ihaldaja, suhtleja, võitleja), kui "tegevuste tasandi ühikud mis leiavad oma tähenduse (oma inteligiibsuse) ainult siis kui me integreerime nad kirjelduse kolmandal tasandil" (Barthes 1985: 121).

Jutustuse tasandile kuuluvad sellised elemendid (nö jutustusmärgid) nagu autori sekkumisviis, jutustuse alguse ja lõpu kodeeritus, otsene ja kaudne esitamisviis, ja "vaatepunkt" (Barthes 1985: 127). Kõik eelnimetatud nähtused kuuluvad jutustuse tasandile ja peavad olema integreeritud, sest "jutustuse, kui jutustuse, lõplik vorm ületab selle sisud ja rangelt jutustuslikud vormid (funktsioonid ja tegevused)" ning "saab tegelikult võtta oma tähenduse ainult maailmast [mis asub sellest valjaspool] ja kasutab seda", ehk teised (sotsiaalsed, majanduslikud ja ideoloogilised) süsteemid mis moodustavad nö "jutustussituatsiooni" ehk protokollide grupi mille järgi jutustust "tarbitakse" (samas, 127). St kõige kõrgemal tasandil on jutustus ise ühik suuremas (nt kultuuri-) süsteemis.

Lõppude lõpuks on Barthesi lähenemine võrreldav kultuurisemiootilise lähenemisega selles mõttes, et vähemalt tasandite puhul saab välja tuua analoogia: funktsioonide tasandile võivad kuuluda ükstapuha millised funktsionaalsed infokillud või viitajad (vormiliselt esitatud kui foneemidest, morfeemidest, sõnadest ja lausetest koosnevad sisuühikud) millest moodustuvad tegevused kui nö "suuremad semantilised klotsid", millest omakorda moodustub jutustus kui tasand millel ilmneb "teksti üldine intentsioon".

Siinkohal on õige aeg pöörata tähelepanu jaotuvatele ja seostavatele klassidele, sest kuigi need konkreetsed mõisted pärinevad Hjelmslevilt on nad selges analoogias Tõnjanovi auto- ja sünfunktsiooni mõistetega: "[iga] element on ühtaegu seotud ühest küljest sarnaste elementidega teistes teos-süsteemides nagu ka teiste ridadega, kuid teisest küljest on ta seotud antud süsteemi teiste elementidega" (Tõnjanov 2014b[1927]: 222-223).

Kuigi neil mõistetel on oma pikk ja huvitav ajalugu (Tõnjanov toetus Anton Marty mõistetele auto- ja sünsemantika, mis omakorda järgivad Aristotelese kategoremaatiliste ja sünkategoremaatiliste sõnade loogikat), omistab Barthes jaotuvate ja seostuvate klasside päritolu Benvenistele: "Tasandite teooria (nagu Benveniste on seda artikuleerinud) pakub kahte tüüpi suhteid: jaotuvad (kui suhted asuvad samal tasandil) ja seostuvad (kui neid tajutakse ühelt tasandilt teisele [seostuvana])" (Barthes 1985: 101). Barthes märgib (samas, 101), et jaotuvad tasandid ei ole piisavad, et seletada tähendust (sest tähendus ilmneb tasandite seostumisel).

Siin tuleb märkida, et infoühikud (nt revolvri ostmine) on peamiselt jaotuvad, sest on korrelatsioonis mõne teise ühikuga samal tasandil (nt revolvri kasutamine). St infoühikud on sünfunktsionaalsed. Viitajad (nt tegelaste omadused, informatsioon nende identiteedi kohta, olukordade "atmosfääri" ülestähendused) seevastu on seostuvad, sest ei puuduta enam sama tasandi tähistajaid vaid koonduvad ("pääsevad") kõrgemale tasandile (Barthes 1985: 107).

Kuigi siin tuleb öelda, et viitajad on autofunktsionaalsed, peab seda väidet kvalifitseerima tähelepanekuga, et selline võrdsustamine on lubatud ainult juhul kui Barthesi tasanditest mõelda kui süsteemidest. Just nagu Tartu-Moskva koolkonna primaarsete-, sekundaarsete-, ja tertsiaalsete modelleerivate süsteemidega, osutub süsteemisisese (sün-) ja süsteemiülese (auto-) funktsiooni eristamine keeruliseks. Igal juhul on selge, et nende kahe suhtetüübi põhimõte on jutustuse analüüsi aluseks ja kulmineerub kolmandal, jutustuse tasandil, selliselt, et jutustus ise võib saada ühikuks suuremas süsteemis (milleks siinkohal oleks kirjanduse süsteem).

Artikli viimases peatükis (jutustuse süsteem) antakse neile suhtetüüpidele (kui keeleprotsessidele) uued tähistajad: sünfunktsionaalne artikulatsioon või segmentatsioon toodab ühikuid mis on mõistetavad vormina ja autosemantiline integratsioon kogub need ühikud kõrgemat järku ühikuteks mis on mõistetav tähendusena (Barthes 1985: 128).


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