My own unreliable narrator

Some of the people who read this may already know, but I’ve got exams coming up. In fact, I’ve got one in fourteen hours from now. (Yes, I just got back from the pub. Shh.)

It’s all literature, which makes it a little more bearable. One of the novels I had to study was The Good Soldier by Ford. It’s got the best kind of narrator: one that’s unreliable, but not clearly so.

The great thing about The Good Soldier is that it’s so damned real. The narrator constantly forgets or remembers things, or changes his mind on certain matters. He begins the narrative loving his late wife, and he absolutely despises her by the end. Also, he tells us things without even realising it–the readers all know that his wife is having an affair with his best friend, but he is somehow oblivious.

And that’s what life’s like, isn’t it? We’re all bloody oblivious to things, or we see things that we want to see. Each and every one of us is the unreliable narrator of our own lives.

In fact, when you think about it, there’s no such thing as a reliable narrator (if we exclude 3rd person omniscient, naturally). All we ever get are versions of reality. We never get the actual thing. Never. Not in our own lives, not when we’re told stories by our friends or our great authors.

But this is getting very Platonic, so I’m going to quit. Beer and philosophy rarely mix.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “My own unreliable narrator

  1. Matthew

    There’s an old line I remember:

    “Malt does more than Milton can,
    to justify God’s ways to man.”

    Though as a non-beer drinker I can’t stand behind it.

  2. Mr. Dax is one such narrator. Booya.

    Good luck on the exams . . . whenever they are. Time zone weirdness.

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