Tag Archives: third-person narration

Similar narrative technique as Joyce?

“Oh quite,” said Lord Peter, grinning at the telephone. The Duchess was always of the greatest assistance to his hobby of criminal investigation, though she never alluded to it, and maintained a polite fiction of its non-existence.

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009. 29.

Most of the novel is driven by characters’ dialogue and readers discover details of the case at the same time as Peter. When an omniscient narrator does step in, the tone seems ironic and humorous. This resembles the narrator in Joyce’s Portrait because we also don’t know if the narrator agrees with Stephen or is gently mocking him. This passage resembles Lord Peter’s style of speech in that Peter would also resort to the most drastic descriptions, such as describing his mother’s unknowing aid as the “greatest assistance.” He might also sugarcoat negative aspects of people and refer to his mother’s coldness towards his career as maintaining a “polite fiction of its non-existence.” However, the narrator maintains some distance by referring to Peter’s mother as The Duchess. We know it is not free indirect discourse as Peter refers to his mother as “Mummy.” In this way, the narration technique resembles Joyce’s because the narrators adopt the voice of their characters but maintain a humorous and critical distance.