The Antinomies of Realism

Michael Wood writes:

The beauty of style indirect libre or free indirect discourse is that it seems to tell the truth without equivocation, to have all the certainty we could wish any third-person narration to have, and then strands us in complicated doubt. Dark clouds ran across the face of the moon; day broke; his teeth chattered; Frédéric bent forward; the parapet was a trifle wide. Straightforward enough. But no, the fifth phrase is surely different, because of the ‘trifle’ (‘un peu’), which suggests a mind making judgments rather than a voice reporting events. Who is saying the parapet is too wide?

(LRB 9 January 2014)

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