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use of these to their fullest extent, that he may see the subject from as many points of view as possible.

My indebtedness to the writers of other treatises on narration and to publishers who have allowed the use of their texts is specially indicated in the body of the book. To Dr. C. S. Baldwin of Yale College, and to Dr. F. N. Robinson of Harvard College, my thanks are due for many excellent suggestions and for the reading of proofs ; and to Professor Brander Matthews of Columbia College for many valuable criticisms and references. Especially I am under obligation to the constant counsel of Professor G. R. Carpenter of Columbia College for much that is good in the arrangement of the book, and for the correction of details in the manuscript and the proof.

W. T. B. COLUMBIA COLLEGE, June 25, 1895.



If we accept any of the well-known definitions of narration' we still have to examine that definition in its various bearings and in its relation to other methods of composition. Such definitions, however, agree in two important respects : that the typical mood of narration is action, that the material with which it deals is things ; and they further agree that these two characteristics are fundamental to all narratives. Despite these prerequisites it is no easy task accurately to determine in any given case what narration is : its aim appears by no means constant ; its province, like all human distinctions, is vaguely defined ; its mood too frequently lies occult; its material may embrace


As, for example, Fletcher and Carpenter : Narration gives an account of an event or a series of events.”Introduction to Theme-Writing (Boston, 1893), p. 2.

Genung: “Narration is the recounting, in succession, of the particulars that make up a transaction.”Practical Elements of Rhetoric (Boston, 1894), p. 355.

Scott and Denney : “A narrative is the presentation in language of successive related events occurring in time.”Paragraph-Writing (Boston, 1893), p. 70.


the facts of the world; its uses range from amusement to morality; and its test is a variable principle.

Narration gives an account in words of how things act; it is an account of action. Now this mood, Narration de- action, and this material, things, and the

means, words, written or spoken, will at once fix general confines to the province of narration. For its means, language, separates it for good and all from those forms of expression which do not use language as a vehicle—from music and painting, from sculpture and architecture. Narration is, then, that method of expression in language dealing with things as they move ; and as such the method is obviously applicable to all forms of literature, good and bad, permanent and ephemeral, to poetry and to prose.

The mood and the material of narration still further separate it from the other methods of composition Distinction

which work through the same means, descrip- language. These methods, exposition, tion, tion, and argu argumentation, and description, with

narration, are convenient terms which include all the methods of expression by language. Exposition and argumentation deal with ideas in their relation to one another ; their point of difference in theory lies in this : that exposition tries merely to explain the nature and interconnection of ideas, while argumentation attempts not only to explain why certain ideas are as they are, but also to convince the understanding that they are as they are, or that they ought to be as they are not. Now description and narration are rightly said to deal with things and not

? Fletcher and Carpenter : Theme-Writing, p. 3.

between narration,


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