The Evolution of Narrative and the Self

Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, Vol.16, No. 2, pp. 129-155, 1993

23 Pages Posted: 2 Dec 2009

Date Written: 1993

Abstract

Narratives bring a range of disparate behavioral modes before the conscious self. Preliterate narratives consist of a loose string of episodes where each episode, or small group of episodes, displays a single mode. With literacy comes the ability to construct long narratives in which the episodes are tightly structured so as to exhibit a character's essential nature. Complex strands of episodes are woven together into a single narrative, with flashbacks being common. The emergence of the novel makes it possible to depict personal growth and change. Intimacy, a private sphere of sociality, emerges as both a mode of experience depicted within novels and as a mode in which people read novels. The novelist constructs a narrator to structure experience for reorganization.

Keywords: narrative, story, myth, novel, self, cognition, drama, plot, complexity, sophistication

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., The Evolution of Narrative and the Self (1993). Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems, Vol.16, No. 2, pp. 129-155, 1993, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1516054

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