framed narratives

Robyn Starkey rohina at
Fri Jun 28 20:29:36 EDT 2002

>Okay, a framing device in fiction is where the main story is set within a
>"frame" of, say, someone telling the story to someone else.  Or someone
>writing to someone saying "look at this neat manuscript I inherited"
>(followed then by the main story as the manuscript).  It was quite popular
>in the 19th century, IIRC.  The only example I can think of offhand is that
>bizarre Gothic novel, "Melmoth the Wanderer" (I *think* that title is
>correct!) - you can find an abridged version of it at Project Gutenberg.  It
>starts off with this guy getting deathbed instructions from his uncle about
>a manuscript and a painting - including, of course, Do Not Read The
>Manuscript.  Naturally, he reads the manuscript, and it forms most of the
>rest of the story.

Other more well-known examples: Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Boccaccio's 
Decameron, Eco's Name of the Rose...

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