chapter  5
22 Pages

Narrative

Ricoeur’s work on narrative is designed to form a complementary pair with his work on metaphor. For Ricoeur, the attractive aspect of both metaphor and narrative is ‘productive invention’. In order to produce a metaphor we must overcome the resistance of our current categorisations of language by a process of what Ricoeur calls ‘predicative assimilation’: in other words, we say something is something else, and in so doing assimilate the something else into the first something, despite the fact that on first appearance it does not belong there. This constitutes for Ricoeur a form of ordering the world by the imagination. In narrative, he says, it is plot which serves the same function of productive invention, or of ordering the world in this way: plot ‘ “grasps together” and integrates into one whole and complete story multiple and scattered events, thereby schematising the intelligible signification attached to the narrative as a whole’ (Ricoeur 1984: x).