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A narrative ( Latin narratio ) is a form of representation as a reproduction of an event in oral or written form. Both the process of narration and its result - a story in the sense of the English term story  - is called narration ; hence the term is the narration process / produktäquivok, reflecting story or narration with interpretation is true, is true of the same.

The totality of those characteristic-forming properties that characterize an act as narration is called narrative ; it is quantifiable and helps to differentiate between chronicle , history and narrative . On the one hand, it consists in the fact that events are set in a more or less evaluative relation to time and space or that they create this temporal and spatial framework in the first place (chronotopologization), and on the other hand in the fact that in the act of narration, the manner of narrating constitutes meaning for the person Content of the story.

The narrative attribute is also used for the method of conveying facts and lessons in the form of stories. From an anthropological perspective and in narrative theory (narratology), a narrative refers to an utterance related to history, which transports both content and subtext and whose function is to bring what has been experienced into known categories.


A minimal definition of narration is: someone is telling someone else that something happened. What is essential is the dynamic connection between what is being told and how it is being told. The process / product equivocation of the concept of narrative shows itself in this dual value . This can also be formulated in terms of time. Then it is about the interactive connection between the time in which the story takes place in relation to the time in which it is told what happened. If there are no interactions between two factors of this kind, it is not a narrative.

In contrast to the products of a scientific historiography (the documentation of history ) there is a strong connotation to the term fiction when classifying what is said or written as a “narrative” in the sense of story . H. to the suspicion that what is being told is (at least in part) fictitious, even if the narrator should assert otherwise. Accordingly, literature in English-speaking countries is divided into fiction and non fiction . Representatives of postmodernism in particular question the thesis that the “great narratives” of historical science are more likely to satisfy the claim to “truth” than so-called “small narratives”, which often do not meet scientific standards. Because in a process where the historical event is supposed to be conveyed, a narration necessarily takes place, whereby one reaches historical knowledge from the sources, be it that the sources already tell, be it that a historian tells history according to non-narrative sources. According to this, not only “figurative narrativity” (i.e. the production of literary narratives), but also “historical narrative” (i.e. the production of works with a historical scientific claim) cannot be imagined without poetic elements.

According to Martin Kreiswirth, the similarity between the two narratives is that they have two values ​​in time. He refers to Meir Sternberg: Historiography does not document any facts, that is, not what “really happened”, but rather represents a discourse that merely claims to document facts. And on the other hand, stories are not simply a web of free inventions, but a discourse that claims that there is this freedom of invention. With this opposition it is not a question of whether what is being told is true or not, but rather of whether what is being told should be able to claim truth value.

In her work Die Kluft , Doris Lessing shows how a myth is retold as speculatively true at a certain point in human history from a certain perspective. Rolf Dobelli generally criticizes the method of illustrating real facts with the help of "stories".

Various humanities and social sciences deal with narratives , including linguistics and literary studies, art studies , communication and media studies and qualitative social research . Narrative theory represents an interdisciplinary area .

The narrative as a genre or genre of literature


In a broader sense, the narrative genre means the literary genre of the epic as a whole. The term “narration” can therefore be used as a generic term for all epic genres - such as novels , novels , anecdotes , short stories , sagas , fairy tales , retelling , etc. - including narration in the narrower sense.

The "story" in the narrower sense represents its own, but not exactly defined literary genre of medium length. It is characteristic of the same that in a text - which is usually shorter and above all less "nested" than usual a novel and not the strict requirements a novella met - one for action running or development chronologically and continuously from a narrative perspective is presented. Flashbacks that are delayed compared to the action are introduced directly into the action, if at all, e.g. B. as a "letter" or as a "memory". The textbook German History of Literature for Higher Schools states about the genre of narrative:

Poems , which in their content relate to the reality of life and simply and vividly depict a simple event, [are] narratives; with cheerful and comical representation Schwänke . "

The narrative is partly distinguished from the short story by less pointedness. The transitions between these genres are fluid, however, so that a single text cannot always be clearly assigned to one of them. “Narration” is often used as a collective term for texts that cannot be clearly identified by the other genres, sometimes also as a generic term for all forms of short prose.

The concept of narrative as a literary genre has been in use since the 17th century; There were no systematic attempts to differentiate it from other text genres at this time. It is controversial in literary studies whether the generic term “narrative” can also be applied to related older text forms that have existed since the Middle Ages, such as the Schwank.

The narrative gained great popularity as a text genre in the 18th century, when magazines became an important medium and there was great demand for short, fictional prose texts. Even during this period, however, the term “narrative” was not used consistently; Christoph Martin Wieland , for example, also understood the novella as a form of narrative. During this time, however, the fictional character clearly began to crystallize as a typical characteristic of the genre, and the distinction from other short genres such as sagas or fairy tales also became common.

Narrative perspectives

There are basically four different narrative perspectives :

  1. the authorial narrative situation (omniscient narrator),
  2. the personal narrative situation ( reflector figure ) and
  3. the first-person narrative situation as well
  4. the neutral narrative situation .

Narrative methodology

Oral narratives

Oral narratives were examined from a sociolinguistic and conversational analytical perspective. In pragmatics , according to the terminology of John R. Searle , storytelling is a complex speech act that results from assertion acts composed. In contrast to speech acts, speech acts (and thus also narration) are also possible in written form. The overall illocution of a narrative text contains the assertion that something happened as it was told. The story described in the actual narrative text (in the sense of story ) and thus the narrative relates to something that actually happened outside and before the story. If this is not the case, the narrative is assessed as a lie or as based on an error . This consequence is spared in fictional stories, provided that a fictional contract has been concluded between the author and the reader . In this case, there is "a willful suspension of disbelief " so that the reader is ready to accept the unrealistic features of the story.

Collections of short stories

Narrativity and "story bias"

The publisher of a Bible lexicon think Narrativity (d. E. The exchange of experiences and lessons with the help of "stories") is to develop the human being a mold. It relates to the everyday experience that we live in stories and that narratives have a dynamic that draws us humans into them. So it's not just about the quality of a text, but above all about the fact that storytelling is constitutive for our exploration of the world . Because in narration it becomes possible to verbalize, organize and interpret one's own experiences, to participate in foreign worlds and to design alternative worlds.

Rolf Dobelli, on the other hand, rates the tendency to convey all kinds of facts in the form of stories as the source of a “mistake in thinking”, the so-called “story bias ”. A “story bias” exists when a speaker or writer cannot resist the temptation, for example, to reproduce the fact that the queen of a country died a few days after the death of her husband with the words: “The king died, and then the queen died of mourning . ”The most important incentive to express oneself in this way is that messages conveyed in this way remain in the mind of readers or listeners longer than messages in which facts are passed on without interpretation or evaluation, if possible. By telling stories, however, “ meaning ” is “constructed into ” the reality being told . According to Dobelli, stories twist and simplify reality. Accordingly, they suppress everything that doesn't really want to fit in. In contrast, the construct -character of narratives is rated positively by narrative psychology .


The theory of " transportation " assumes that people who get lost in a narrative or story change their attitudes and intentions to reflect that story. According to Green & Strange, transportation can serve as an approach to explain the persuasive effect of narratives on recipients. They developed the Transportation Scale (TS) to quantify differences in psychological states of immersion in a narrative. Since the measuring instrument was very extensive, many authors used ad hoc scales that only contained parts of the original scale. In order to remedy this deficiency, Appel, Gnabs, Richter & Green (2015) developed a short form of the original scale, in the development of which they considered criteria relevant to the measurement quality. The 6-item scale proposed by them was able to replicate the factor structure of the original scale with 3 facet factors and a general transportation factor; the results were also satisfactory with regard to the quality criteria.

Similar meanings

See also


  • Volker Klotz : storytelling. From Homer to Boccaccio, from Cervantes to Faulkner, Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 978-3-406-54273-2 .
  • Eberhard Lämmert : Types of storytelling . Metzler, Stuttgart 1955, ISBN 3-476-00097-4 .
  • Alf Mentzer, Ulrich Sonnenschein (Hrsg.): The world of stories: Art and technology of storytelling ( Funkkolleg ), Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-596-17730-1 .
  • Franz K. Stanzel : Theory of storytelling . 8th edition, UTB / Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2008, ISBN 978-3-8252-0904-9 (UTB, volume 904) / ISBN 978-3-525-03208-4 (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht).
  • Matías Martinez , Michael Scheffel : Introduction to narrative theory. 10th edition, Beck, Nördlingen 2016, ISBN 978-3-406-69969-6 .
  • Dieter Teichert : Narration, I-Identity, Self ; in: G. Gasser, M. Schmidhuber (eds.): Personal Identity, Narrativity and Practical Rationality. The unity of the person from a metaphysical and practical perspective. Paderborn, mentis, 2013, 221-238.
  • Dieter Teichert: Narrative Identities - On the conception of a textual constitution of the self ; in: Ch. Demmerling, Í. Vendrell Ferran (eds.): Truth, Knowledge and Understanding in Literature. Philosophical contributions. Berlin, de Gruyter, 2014, 315–333.
  • Dieter Teichert: Self and Narrativity. In: A. Newen, K. Vogeley (eds.): The self and its neurobiological foundations, Paderborn, Mentis, 2000, 201-214.

Web links

Wiktionary: Narration  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: narrative  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. White, Hayden : The Importance of Form. Narrative structures in historiography. Frankfurt am Main 1990.
  2. Brück, Werner: Paradigms of Narratology. Bern, Norderstedt 2015.
  3. ^ Narrative , social and cultural anthropology,, version from June 14, 2011.
  4. a b Martin Kreiswirth, Merely Telling Stories? Narrative and Knowledge in the Human Sciences, in: Poetics Today 21.2 (Summer 2000), pp. 293-318.
  5. ^ [1] , Nünning, Vera : Narrativity as an interdisciplinary key category. Extract from the annual report Marsilius-Kolleg 2011/2012, version of March 13, 2016.
  6. ^ Harm-Peer Zimmermann: On the dignity of narrative cultures. Myths and life stories in the mirror of postmodern knowledge . In: Thomas Hengartner / Brigitta Schmidt-Lauber (ed.): Life - storytelling. Contributions to narrative and biography research . Berlin / Hamburg. Dietrich-Reimer-Verlag 2005, pp. 119–144 ( online  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice .; PDF; 6 , 0 MB)@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  7. a b Hee-Jik Noo: History and Narrativity ( Memento of the original from June 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (PDF; 342 kB) Korean Society for German Studies / Hankuk University of Foreign Studies , Seoul, pp. 114 + 119. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. ^ Susan Watkins, Doris Lessing , Manchester University Press, Manchester, 2010, ISBN 978-0-7190-7481-3 , p. 141.
  9. Rolf Dobelli: “The Story Bias. Why even the real stories lie ”, in: The Art of Clear Thinking. 52 Errors in reasoning that you should leave to others , Munich, Carl Hanser, 2011, pp. 53–56.
  10. ^ In: German history of literature for higher schools. CC Buchners Verlag, Bamberg 1954, p. 430
  11. Gero von Wilpert : Specialized Dictionary of Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 8th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-520-23108-5 , p. 239.
  12. Klaus Weimar (Ed.): Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft (Vol. 1), de Gruyter: Berlin, New York (1997), p. 519
  13. Klaus Weimar (Ed.): Reallexikon der deutschen Literaturwissenschaft (vol. 1), de Gruyter: Berlin, New York (1997), p. 520
  14. William Labov and Joshua Waletzky: Narrative Analysis: Oral versions of personal experience . In: Jens Ihwe (ed.): Literary studies and linguistics. A selection. Texts on the theory of literary studies . Frankfurt am Main: Athenäum / Fischer 1973 (1967), Vol. 2, 78–126.
  15. ^ Elisabeth Gülich: Telling from a conversational analytical perspective: attempting a synthesis . Basic paper for the Summer Academy Narrative Meaning Formation at the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University Greifswald , August 30th – September 11th, 2004. [2]
  16. ^ Frank Zipfel: Fiction, Fiction, Fictionality. Analyzes of fiction in literature and the concept of fiction in literary studies . Erich Schmidt, Berlin 2001, p. 60
  17. Dorothea Erbele-Küster : Narrativity . wibilex. The scientific Bible dictionary on the Internet . 2009
  18. ^ Rolf Dobelli: The art of clear thinking. 52 Errors in reasoning that you should leave to others , Munich, Carl Hanser, 2011, pp. 53–56
  19. a b Green, Melanie C., Strange, Jeffrey J., Brock, Timothy C., 1935-: Narrative impact: social and cognitive foundations . Taylor & Francis, [Boca Raton] 2011, ISBN 978-1-135-67328-4 (OCLC = 772959010 [accessed February 29, 2020]).
  20. a b Markus Appel, Timo Gnambs, Tobias Richter, Melanie C. Green: The Transportation Scale-Short Form (SF-TS) . In: Media Psychology . tape 18 , no. 2 , April 3, 2015, ISSN  1521-3269 , p. 243–266 , doi : 10.1080 / 15213269.2014.987400 (DOI = 10.1080 / 15213269.2014.987400 [accessed on February 29, 2020]).