Friday 7 November 2014

An Ode to First Person Narrative

It's weird, but until recently I absolutely detested first person narrative. I hated that you were confined to one set of eyes, I mean how could I possibly know the whole story if it was only being told through one person. But, but, recently I have read a number of books that have successfully and whole heartedly changed my opinion.

The Great Gatsby


Nick is annoying narrator, there are no two ways about it, but there is something about his way of telling the story that makes me believe that the book would be nothing without him. The way in which he idolises Gatsby is perfect and I like how as the reader you almost don't question the way he embellishes the narrative and blatantly leaves out key information. If anything, it just adds charm to the story. Whilst reading it I would sometimes wish for Gatsbys side of the story but I can now look back and understand that mystery surrounded Gatsby and that mystery could only be obtained by giving the job of narrator to Nick.

The Secret History


Here we have one of my all time favourite books, a tale of classics students narrated by Richard. I would put Richard in the same box as Nick (Gatsby) in that he embellishes the story line, idolises the characters and leaves out key information. There were points where I was frustrated that I could only know what Richard knew and at times it had annoyed me that I was kept in the dark as to what the other characters were doing. But by living the story through Richard I began to understand the way in which an individual can be both included and excluded from key events. This book used first person narrative to perfection, Donna Tartt used it to manipulate the reader, ultimately the book dealt with some horrific events, but due to Richards idolisation of some of the characters and his decision to bypass the horrendous nature of some of the events, I finished the book almost believing that the characters actions were justified. I actually had to sit myself down and look past the rosy tint that Richard put upon the story.

Paige Toon


I am a recent fan of Paige Toons books and I think she uses first person narrative brilliantly. I felt that it allowed me to connect with the main character and really understand their actions and feelings. It also gave the opportunity for information to be revealed as and when the main character wished it to be.

So, finally I understand the appeal of first person narrative, I am beginning to enjoy how you are somewhat blind to half the story, I like how I can almost become the character. First person narrative allows the reader to immerse themselves in the story in a way that would otherwise be impossible. At times it is exhausting, when they cry, I cry, when they laugh, I laugh but it allows the reader to commit to the story and enjoy it as an experience rather than just words on a page. It's fair to say that it can often be an emotional roller coaster, but its a roller coaster I am glad I got on.


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