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

Iwata, Yumiko (2009). Creating suspense and surprise in short literary fiction: a stylistic and narratological approach. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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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: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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