Some Thoughts on Controlling Fictional Narrators in Fiction Film

Mario Slugan


Here I address the debate concerning the (in)existence of controlling fictional narrators in film. In the first part I turn to general arguments and criticize George Wilson’s latest defense of the existence of controlling fictional narrators. Wilson claims that the existence of controlling fictional narrators hinges on the validity of the Fictional Showing Hypothesis, which in turn rests on the Imagined Seeing Thesis. I argue that Wilson’s Imagined Seeing Thesis and Fictional Showing Hypothesis are about game-worlds, whereas existence of fictional narrators is about work-worlds. As such, they cannot tell us anything about the (in)existence of narrators. In the second part of the paper I turn to the possibility of character narrators acting as controlling fictional ones. I argue against the standard example of this – the case of Addison DeWitt in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s All about Eve – but do not dismiss the possibility  in general. I conclude with a claim that fiction films are characterized by the near-absence of controlling fictional narrators though some examples to the contrary may be found. I sketch out a typology of these cases.


Fiction; Walton; Wilson; controlling fictional narrators; character narrators

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