Framing devices

Kyla Tornheim kyla at
Thu Apr 3 11:39:55 EST 2003

On Thu, 3 Apr 2003, Robyn Starkey wrote:

> At 08:51 AM 03/04/2003 -0500, you wrote:
> >I just reread _The Hero and the Crown_, and was utterly bewildered as to
> >the precise chronology, since it's awfully vague, even though I've been
> >reading this book periodically for years. The framing device is around
> >just the first few chapters, but since Robin McKinley's writing style is
> >sort of vague (and I mean this in the nicest way possible), I was
> >thinking, "Wait.
> >
> ><spoiler space>
> >
> >I
> >'
> >m
> >
> >t
> >r
> >y
> >i
> >n
> >g
> >
> >t
> >o
> >
> >b
> >e
> >
> >p
> >o
> >l
> >i
> >t
> >e
> >
> >"So Aerin's already fighting dragons? The demon mischief is already a
> >problem? She's hiding in her room? When does she discover kenet? ....oh.
> >Now we go back about four years or so. Now she eats the surka. Now she
> >rides Talat. Now she discovers kenet. Now she starts killing dragons.
> Strictly speaking, this isn't a frame, this is in media res (starting the
> narrative in the middle of the story). Frames are when you start with one
> pov and narrator, who then says, I'll tell you a story, and then they go on
> to do this. Famous example: Heart of Darkness. I don't actually think Fire
> and Hemlock is really a frame narrative, either.

Okay, yeah, you're right. I just wanted to complain about it. :^)

What do you call stories-within-stories? Like _Pyramus and Thisbe_ in _A
Midsummer Night's Dream_ (although I'm not sure they *really* tell the
story during the play; the great Bernard Miles children's version I have
does, because, well, it's a children's book). Does _A Thousand and One
Nights_ (or whatever it's called) count as having a frame?

Making coffee has become the great compromise of the decade.
It's the only thing "real" men do that doesn't seem to threaten
their masculinity. To women, it's on the same domestic entry
level as putting the spring back into the toilet-tissue holder
or taking a chicken out of the freezer to thaw.
       --Erma Bombeck

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