The authorial persona: A truth conditional account
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)
This thesis proposes that there is a narrative stance distinguishable from other narrative stances, and to which the term persona can be correctly applied. This stance is determined by recourse to the perceiver's view of the author (called herein the reader's author), rather than by recourse to the biographical author. In order to determine to what the term persona should apply a number of prior investigations are carried out. Firstly, the relationship of the author to his text, and in particular to his narrators, is examined, including a summary of the problems raised by attempts at self-expression. The sociological view of the term, and sociological attitudes to the question of identity, its expression and perception, are also discussed. Secondly, contemporary uses of the term persona in literature are investigated, and three different applications are found to exist: (i) The Inevitable Persona. (ii) The Persona of Decorum.
(iii) The Persona of Impersonation.
From these applications, proceeds a survey of how these concepts were mani fested before persona was coined in the criticism of poetry and prose. This thesis then turns to consider narrative in terms of its truth conditions, and details the truth conditions of a distinct narrative stance to which the term persona could be properly applied. Before testing the truth conditions of the three concepts to which the term has been applied, the reader who is to perceive the texts is defined. The three applications of the term persona are then examined for their truth conditions, and only one is found to refer to a distinct narrative stance distinguishable from other stances. It is therefore concluded that the term persona has been too widely applied, and that by the use of a truth conditional account of narrative a more restricted and useful application can be achieved. The textual and contextual markers which lead the reader to postulate the existence of a persona are then detailed. Finally three illustrative examples are presented, and the theory is found to have explanatory value.