Ring Composition: Some Notes on a Particular Literary Morphology

60 Pages Posted: 29 Sep 2014 Last revised: 14 Oct 2014

Date Written: September 28, 2014


Ring-composition is an ancient way of ordering narratives, but it exists in a variety of modern texts as well. Mary Douglas has identified seven criteria for recognizing narrative rings: 1) exposition or prologue, 2) split into two halves, 3) parallel sections, 4) indicators to mark individual sections, 5) central loading, 6) rings within rings, and 7) closure at two levels. I analyze a variety of texts according to those criteria (“Kubla Khan,” Metropolis, Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now), introduce the notion of center point construction as a weakened, and therefor more general, form of ring composition, and discuss ring-composition in relation to a computational model of mental behavior.

Keywords: narrative, ring-form, ring-composition, parallelism, poetics, narratology, Mary Douglas

Suggested Citation

Benzon, William L., Ring Composition: Some Notes on a Particular Literary Morphology (September 28, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2502556 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2502556

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