Prose Fiction: An Introduction to the Semiotics of Narrative

January 22, 2020 | Updated: April 11, 2022
Author: Ignasi Ribó, Mae Fah Luang University

This concise and highly accessible textbook outlines the principles and techniques of storytelling. It is intended as a high-school and college-level introduction to the central concepts of narrative theory that will aid students in developing their competence not only in analyzing and interpreting short stories and novels, but also in writing them. Prose Fiction prioritizes clarity over intricacy of theory, equipping its readers with the necessary tools to embark on further study of literature, literary theory and creative writing. Building on a “semiotic model of narrative,” it is structured around the key elements of narratological theory, with chapters on plot, setting, characterisation, and narration, as well as on language and theme. The chapter on language constitutes essential reading for those students unfamiliar with rhetoric, while the chapter on theme draws together significant perspectives from contemporary critical theory (including feminism and postcolonialism).

Subject Areas
Communication/Writing, Creative Writing

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Prose Fiction: An Introduction to the Semiotics of Narrative by Ignasi Ribó, Mae Fah Luang University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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Reviews (1) Avg: 3.9 / 5

Ginny Ratsoy

Institution:Thompson Rivers UniversityTitle/Position: Professor Emerita English Creative Commons License

Q: The text covers all areas and ideas of the subject appropriately and provides an effective index and/or glossary

It is quite comprehensive. It also includes a brief summary of each story discussed in the body in an appendix; however, those summaries are from Wikipedia, which is not the strongest source.

The glossary is adequate, although perhaps brief examples would be helpful.

The example stories start from ancient Greece and run roughly to the present, so there is good general period coverage. However, there certainly could be more examples of stories written by women, and Indigenous, Black, and LGBTQ writers are under represented.

My major suggestion is this: If this text is to be used in Canada, Canadian content should be added to the examples. Not one of the stories discussed is by a Canadian author.

Please keep in mind that this text would need to be supplemented, not only by a reader, but, perhaps, by a text that outlines common approaches to writing literary analysis.

Comprehensiveness Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Content is accurate, error-free and unbiased

The illustrations nicely augment the text and are well produced.

Apart from the limitations of the example stories, as discussed previously, no glaring errors or biases present themselves.

Content Accuracy Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: Content is up-to-date, but not in a way that will quickly make the text obsolete within a short period of time. The text is written and/or arranged in such a way that necessary updates will be relatively easy and straightforward to implement

This text does a very good job of incorporating theories and examples that are both historical and contemporary. Again, my major concern is the absence of Canadian, Indigenous, Black, and LGBTQ examples.

Relevance Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is written in lucid, accessible prose, and provides adequate context for any jargon/technical terminology used

Yes, it is accessible -- for students at the second-year university level and above. In the preface, the writer indicates it may be useful for high school and first-year students; however, there are parts that would be a considerable challenge for students at those levels.

Clarity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is internally consistent in terms of terminology and framework

Yes. It refers the reader to diagrams and illustrations and other parts of the text neatly, and the writer does not seem to contradict himself.

Consistency Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is easily and readily divisible into smaller reading sections that can be assigned at different points within the course (i.e., enormous blocks of text without subheadings should be avoided). The text should not be overly self-referential, and should be easily reorganized and realigned with various subunits of a course without presenting much disruption to the reader.

Yes. The table of contents is nicely laid out, and each chapter is broken down into appropriate sub-headings. The summaries are also convenient. One small point: the different colours used to designate each chapter title could be more distinct.

Although the writer, logically, refers to the content of the previous chapter(s) in a new chapter, the reading would note necessarily have to be done in the strict order of the chapters.

Modularity Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The topics in the text are presented in a logical, clear fashion

Yes, the writer nicely connects and builds on information as the text progresses, and each chapter refers to the previous readings, as well as introducing new topics well.

Organization Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text is free of significant interface issues, including navigation problems, distortion of images/charts, and any other display features that may distract or confuse the reader

In hard copy, there are no significant interface issues: illustrations are of sufficient size without dominating, and are conveniently located to the text to which they refer. One thing, though: the pagination could be larger and more prominent. It took me a while to find the individual page numbers.

Interface Rating: 4 out of 5

Q: The text contains no grammatical errors

The text seems to be well edited and proof-read.

Grammar Rating: 5 out of 5

Q: The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way. It should make use of examples that are inclusive of a variety of races, ethnicities, and backgrounds

While I detected nothing overly offensive, the issue of inclusion, as I mentioned in previous responses, is an important one. The example stories in this text should be more diverse, and , if used in Canadian courses, include Canadian authors.

Cultural Relevance Rating: 3 out of 5

Q: Are there any other comments you would like to make about this book, for example, its appropriateness in a Canadian context or specific updates you think need to be made?

Although this text has much to recommend it -- clear prose, effective and logical organization, good period coverage, and engaging and augmenting illustrations -- I would hesitate to recommend it because of the lack of inclusion. The text needs examples of stories by Canadian writers if it is to be used in Canadian classrooms, as well as a great variety of story examples by women, people of colour, and LGBTQ writers.