The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

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Miscellaneous Archives > Great books with POV shifts

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message 1: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments The dialectic of Plato's Republic shows many shifts in argument, as do his dialogues with Socrates.


message 2: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4497 comments Mod
Erato wrote: "Madge UK wrote: "The dialectic of Plato's Republic shows many shifts in argument, as do his dialogues with Socrates."

You may have been making a joke, but... I think that falls in the vein of "not..."


Madge was not joking.


message 3: by Madge UK (last edited May 29, 2018 10:35AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2933 comments Correct Deborah. Platonic and Socratic dialogues are not comparable with Shakespeare. They are conversations which explore p.o.v. on many topics using a format known as The Classical Argument established by Greek scholars.

Many classic novels use this rhetorical device and this is one of the reasons some of them get classed as great. George Eliot's Middlemarch is a good example of a heroine, Dorothea, changing her p.o.v. throughout the novel, of becoming a different, more enlightened, person at the end of it. In Tess of the Durbevilles Hardy tries to influence contemporary p.o.v. by seeking to reveal Tess as a wronged woman, not a fallen one. In both cases the classical, Aristotlean, rhetoric of ethos, pathos and logos is used to persuade the reader.

https://owl.excelsior.edu/argument-an...

Authors who present dilemmas for us to solve frequently turn the tables on their characters, particularly in good detective fiction which teases us into thinking well of a person before revealing them as a villain, thus shifting our p.o.v. and keeping us turning the page until The End.


message 4: by Brian E (new)

Brian E Reynolds | 754 comments I'm not sure what you mean by a shift in POV. Faulkner shifts the first person narrator in The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, but it is still a first person narrator. Do you mean shifting between 1st, 2nd and 3rd person narration rather than switching 1st person narrators?
I recently read A Visit From the Goon Squad, the 2011 Pulitzer winner. The chapters shift between a 1st person narrator and a 3rd person narrator and one even has a 2nd person narrator. However, the chapters can be considered connected short stories rather than a cohesive novel, and I can't say it is truly great, so I just use it as an example. However, it does seem to tell a jumping-around-in-time version of a single semi-cohesive story.


message 5: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2227 comments Mod
I also think the question was referring to the technique of having a chapter or section of a book with one person's POV, then switching and sometimes showing a whole different view of the incidents already described. (This happens in the modern books Game of Thrones or Gone Girl, for instance.) In the period that we cover, the author mostly did that through 3rd person. In War and Peace for instance, different sections show us the thoughts of Pierre, Andre, Natasha, etc., but Tolstoy doesn't use 1st person.


message 6: by Deborah, Moderator (new)

Deborah (deborahkliegl) | 4497 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "I also think the question was referring to the technique of having a chapter or section of a book with one person's POV, then switching and sometimes showing a whole different view of the incidents..."

Woman in white does it using a bunch of narrators and methods of telling the story


message 7: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2227 comments Mod
Yes, great example! I had forgotten about that.


message 8: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2939 comments Mod
Also The Moonstone.


message 9: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1935 comments Mod
A Study in Scarlet shifts the entire narrative from London to Utah with a complete change of apparent narrator.

The device of a tale within a tale is quite common, such as in Frankenstein.


message 10: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2227 comments Mod
Right, that's what I was commenting on in the thread of The Kreutzer Sonata. Rather than just start with a 3rd person or 1st person narration of the main character, an observer runs into someone or finds a manuscript. I think this is supposed to make it seem more true, kind of like urban legends on the internet that always happened to someone's friend or relative rather than the writer.


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