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In non-technical terms, no matter what the context (whether scientific, philosophical, legal, etc) a narrative is a story, an interpretation of some aspect of the world that is historically and culturally grounded and shaped by human personality. [Mar 2006]

Related fairy tale - fiction - gossip - history - legend - narrative - speech - story - word of mouth


Storytelling is one of the oldest arts of human beings. People in all times and places have told stories.

The intrinsic nature of stories was recently described in A Palpable God, (1997) by Reynolds Price (Akkadine Press) when he wrote:

"A need to tell and hear stories is essential to the species Homo sapiens--second in necessity apparently after nourishment and before love and shelter. Millions survive without love or home, almost none in silence; the opposite of silence leads quickly to narrative, and the sound of story is the dominant sound of our lives, from the small accounts of our day's events to the vast incommunicable constructs of psychopaths." There are many kinds of stories, such as fables, parables, myths, and legends. Stories are of many moods, such as humorous, inspirational, educative, frightening, tragic, romantic.

Stories of wise men are well known, such as Solomon and Nasreddin.

Modern storytellers may be actors, singers, rappers and comedians.

See also: folklore, fairy tale, oral history storytelling game

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storytelling [May 2004]

Fairy tale

A fairy tale is a story, usually told to children, concerning the adventures of mythical characters such as: fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants and others. These stories often involve princes and princesses and normally have a happy ending. Often, fairy tales were disguised morality tales. This is true for the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale Collection, and many of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen.

An extensive collection of European fairy tales were published by Andrew Lang in a series of books: The Red Fairy Book, The Orange Fairy Book, and so forth. These provide some excellent examples of the genre. Some have also classed the Middle Eastern tales from 1001 Arabian Nights as fairy tales. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_tale [May 2004]

A story within a story

A story within a story is a literary device or conceit in which one story is told during the action of another story. 'Mise en abyme' is the French term for the same literary device (and also refers to the practice in heraldry of placing the image of a small shield on a larger shield). A story within a story can be used in novels, short stories, plays, television, films, poems, music, and even philosophy. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Story_within_a_story [May 2005]

Mise en abyme

Mise en abyme (sometimes spelt mise en abīme) has several meanings in the realms of creative arts and literary theory. The term is originally from the French and means, "placing into infinity" or "placing into the abyss".

In Western art "mise en abyme" is a formal technique in which an image contains a smaller copy of itself, the sequence appearing to recur infinitely. The term originated in heraldry, describing a coat of arms which appears as a small shield in the center of a larger one. See Droste effect.

In film, the meaning of "mise en abyme" is similar to the artistic definition but also includes the idea of a "dream within a dream". For example, a character awakens from a dream and later discovers that they are still dreaming. Activities which are similar to dreaming, such as unconsciousness and virtual reality, are also described as "mise en abyme". This is seen in the film eXistenZ where the two protagonists never truly know whether they are out of the game or not.

In literary criticism, "mise en abyme" is a type of frame story, in which the main narrative can be used to sum up or encapsulate some aspect of the framing story. The term is used in deconstruction and deconstructive literary criticism as a paradigm of the intertextual nature of language, the way language never quite reaches the foundation of reality because it refers in a frame-in-frame way to other language, which refers to other language, etc. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mise_en_abyme [Aug 2006]


Narrative is a term which has several and changing meanings. In origin it is a latin word which came into English via the french language.

A 'narrative' is, originally a story or part of a story spoken, written or imagined from the viewpoint of one of the (possibly fictional) participants or observers.

In recent years the meaning has been widened to imply the construction of a 'story' from a particular angle or viewpoint. In this form it is often used (and perhaps overused) in interlectual discourse so that even inanimate objects can be said to provide a 'narrative' about a particular subject.

Narrative can also be a synonym for a story or tale. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative, May 2004

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