In The Use of Personal Pronouns in The Novel (nlr 34) Michel Butor raises the problem of the author’s relation to the characters in his novel and to the novel itself. As he demonstrates, this question has arisen through the introduction of a narrator—an ‘I’—which introduces the problem of time and of relationship: who is the ‘I’ in relation to the author, to the story he is relating, to himself within the time span of the novel itself. In an attempt to catch reality ‘live’, ‘piping hot’, this timespan has been continually collapsed until, in the interior monologue, the author presents an ‘I’ describing an experience as it happens, an ‘I’ who assumes no distance from the experience he is living.
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