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“‘I Already Told you Some of This:’ Retelling and Redundancy in Hillerman.”
Mälardalen University, School of Education, Culture and Communication.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5830-079X
2007 (English)Other (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

“I Already Told You Some of This” — Retelling, Revisioning and Redundancy in Hillerman

It is hardly surprising to find a great deal of reporting mixed in with the action in detective fiction: witnesses report what they have seen, and detectives report what the witnesses have said. In Tony Hillerman's later detective fiction, however, different kinds of reporting and retelling seem to take over as the dominant, or at least a most noticeable narrative mode, which in turn foregrounds narrative features associated with postmodernist fiction: revisions, reworkings, multiple versions and other signs of meta-narrativity. Thus, in The Wailing Wind (2002), through repeated focalization shifts, an FBI-agent's interrogation of an old Navajo speaker becomes an opportunity to show how the characters' (the agent's, the inept interpreter's, the two Navajo police officers'), and the narrative audience's varying levels of linguistic and cultural understanding determine which, slightly different, version of the events he or she receives, and, ultimately, how the events are perceived and interpreted by the authorial audience. In other words, these detectives, and the authorial audience, pursue a very elusive truth.

A related feature is repeated reporting, well beyond the point of redundancy. A character's testimony or story is repeated, often several times, by other characters thinking to themselves or reporting it to a third character. It is not, as in traditional detective fiction, a case of several witnesses telling the detective their version of what they saw. In Hillerman's Skeleton Man, (2004)for instance, numerous characters, including several detectives, keep telling themselves and other characters what they and other people have said. This kind of repetition is not necessary to explain something to the reader; on the contrary, the effect of these repetitions is less that of recognition than of a foregrounding of possible mutability and of a shifting narrative perspective. Such narrative instability may indeed seem less than compatible with the detective genre's traditionalpreoccupation with finding the truth, but is, I claim, a typical feature of Hillerman's later fiction.

In this paper I will show how features of postmodernity, such as retelling, revisioning and metanarrativity have become integral parts of Hillerman's detective series, and discuss their effects on the authorial audience. 1 . Tony Hillerman: Skeleton Man (2004) New York:HarperTorch 2006, 75.

Place, publisher, year, pages
2007.
Keywords [en]
retelling, intradiegetic narrator, postmodern, detective fiction, authorial audience
National Category
General Literature Studies
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:mdh:diva-5200OAI: oai:DiVA.org:mdh-5200DiVA, id: diva2:160122
Note

Conference paper read at the 2007 International Conference on Narrative, Washington D.C., USA.

Available from: 2009-02-11 Created: 2009-02-11 Last updated: 2016-02-11Bibliographically approved

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Molander Danielsson, Karin

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