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Creating suspense and surprise in short literary fiction: a stylistic and narratological approach

Iwata, Yumiko (2009)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Suspense and surprise, as common and crucial elements of interest realised in literary fiction, are analysed closely in a sample of short stories, so as to develop a detailed explanation of how these forms of interest are created in literary texts, and to propose models for them. Creating suspense involves more conditions, necessary and optional, and more complication than surprise: the several optional conditions mainly serve to intensify the feeling of suspense the reader experiences. Surprise requires two necessary and sufficient conditions, with only a couple of optional conditions to maintain or ensure coherence in the text. The differences are considered attributable to a more fundamental difference between suspense and surprise as emotions. Suspense can be regarded as a progressive emotion, whereas surprise is a perfective emotion. As such, suspense as an interest is considered as a process-oriented interest, while surprise is an effect-oriented one. Suspense is mostly experienced while reading and has the reader involved with the story. Surprise drives the reader to reassess the story in the new light it throws on events and to look for some further message; this is often a main aim of the literary fiction which ends in surprise.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Toolan, Michael
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of Humanties, Department of English
Keywords:suspense, surprise, emotion, literary reading, stylistics, narratology, short story
Subjects:PR English literature
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:284
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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