Skip to main content
Kent Academic Repository

Towards a Typology of Narrative Frustration

Altshuler, Daniel, Kim, Christina S. (2023) Towards a Typology of Narrative Frustration. Topoi, . ISSN 0167-7411. (doi:10.1007/s11245-023-09942-1) (KAR id:103472)


Through imaginative engagement readers of fiction become, to an extraordinary extent, the narrator’s ‘children’: they often submit themselves to the narrator’s authority without reserve. But precisely because of that, readers are deeply at a loss when their trust is betrayed. This underscores a core function of fiction, namely to evoke emotional response in the reader. In this paper, we hypothesize how a reader’s imaginative engagement can be subjected to narrative frustration due to processing or moral complexity. The types of narrative frustration we consider differ in terms of their sources, and their emotional and behavioral impacts on the reader. Here, we break down these frustrations into their component parts, in an effort to better characterize the different classes of frustrations. We propose that frustrations arise from different combinations of local uncertainty, moral clash and global uncertainty. These sources of frustration in turn explain the reader’s emotional response and their consequent reading behavior as they imaginatively engage with fiction.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s11245-023-09942-1
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Funders: University of Oxford (
University of Kent (
Depositing User: Christina Kim
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2023 14:30 UTC
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2024 18:48 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

  • Depositors only (login required):

Total unique views for this document in KAR since July 2020. For more details click on the image.