Skip to main content

Building a World from the Day's Remains: Showing, Telling, Re-presenting

Scott, Jeremy (2019) Building a World from the Day's Remains: Showing, Telling, Re-presenting. In: Sorlin, Sandrine, ed. Stylistic Manipulation of the Reader in Contemporary Fiction. Advances in Stylistics . Bloomsbury, London, UK. ISBN 978-1-350-06297-9. (KAR id:66881)

PDF Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English
Download (396kB) Preview
[thumbnail of Scott - FINAL2.pdf]
This file may not be suitable for users of assistive technology.
Request an accessible format
XML Word Processing Document (DOCX) Author's Accepted Manuscript
Language: English

Restricted to Repository staff only
Contact us about this Publication
[thumbnail of Scott - FINAL2.docx]
Official URL


In the meta-discourses of creative writing, the terms ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ are often used to distinguish between different kinds of narrative effect. The distinction can be taken literally: in the former, the narrative creates the impression that the reader is being ‘shown’ the events that unfold, as if present in or witnessing the storyworld. In the latter, the reader will feel that they are being told about the events once removed. However, it is difficult to define, distinguish between and analyse the two terms in a principled manner. This is especially true in the case of first-person (homodiegetic) narration which takes place simultaneously with the events being mediated. In such narrative situations, the effects are blended more overtly, and foregrounded, because a homodiegetic narrator must both ‘show’ and ‘tell’ at the same time. This chapter will augment and extend a model outlined in Scott (2013) by arguing that the classical terms mimesis and diegesis together with taxonomies drawn from stylistic descriptions of discourse presentation (Short 2007) and Text World Theory (Werth 1999, Gavins 2007) can provide a robust means of exploring the difference between the two techniques of representation and their differing effects on the reader’s processes of world-building. Examples are drawn from Kazuo Ishiguro’s Remains of the Day (1989) to illustrate the distinction, and it will be argued that more nuanced understanding of the processes involved at a stylistic and cognitive poetic level will be of benefit to both creative practitioners and critics.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: narratology, discourse presentation, Text World Theory, creative writing, mimesis and diegesis, Kazuo Ishiguro
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Jeremy Scott
Date Deposited: 01 May 2018 10:55 UTC
Last Modified: 28 Sep 2021 15:52 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Scott, Jeremy:
  • Depositors only (login required):