TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

by Arturo Perez-Reverte

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TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 12:35 pm

Ch. XV. Corso and Richelieu Pg. 313.

“The time has come to reveal the narrator. Faithful to the tradition that the reader of a mystery novel must possess the same information as the protagonist, I have presented the events only from Lucas Corso’s perspective, except on two occasions: Chapters 1 and 5 of this story, when I had no choice but to appear myself. In both these cases, and as now for the third and final time, I used the first person for the sake of coherence. It would have been absurd to refer to myself as “he,” a publicity stunt that may have yielded dividends for Julius Caesar in his campaign in Gaul but would have been judged, in my case, and quite rightly, as unpardonable pedantry. There is another, more perverse reason: telling the story as if I were Dr. Sheppard addressing Poirot struck me as, if not ingenious (everybody does that sort of thing now), then an amusing device. After all, people write for amusement, or excitement, or out of self-love, or to have others love them. I write for some of the same reasons. To quote Eugene Sue, villains who are all of a piece, if you’ll permit me the expression, are very rare phenomena. Assuming—and it may be too much to assume—that I am a villain.”

To whom, exactly, is Balkan revealing himself (as a narrator)?

Why did Arturo Pérez-Reverte choose to use Balkan as a narrator?

Is Corso also a narrator of the story?

Who is in control of the narrative?
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Parlez » Fri Aug 15, 2008 4:12 pm

Merde! My answer to all the questions is the same: beats me!
This is another example of the convolutions in this book that went right over my head. I never got a firm grasp of who was speaking for whom. Corso certainly revealed more than a narrator - a third party, reporting from a distance - would be likely to know. Balkan was somehow magically able to get inside of Corso's head on many occasions, expressing his (Corso's) innermost thoughts and feelings. Does that mean Balkan was more than just a neutral Narrator? Was he something more; someone else; some otherworldly entity altogether??
Well, as far as the last questions goes, I'd have to say noone seemed to be in 'control' of the narrative, except maybe the devil!
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby gemini » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:12 pm

Parlez wrote:Well, as far as the last questions goes, I'd have to say noone seemed to be in 'control' of the narrative, except maybe the devil!

Yes and even SHE was strange in this story!
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby gemini » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:27 pm

To whom, exactly, is Balkan revealing himself (as a narrator)?
I thought while reading it that it was to us the readers.

Why did Arturo Pérez-Reverte choose to use Balkan as a narrator?
I am not sure of Perez Reverte's motive but I felt that Balkin had a fascination or admiration for Corso. He was aware of his literary knowledge and knew he could be unscroupulous.

Is Corso also a narrator of the story?
Yes, He tells us of his past and we follow him through his investigation and feel his fears and see his unrelentless pursuit while wondering at his own capabilities..

Who is in control of the narrative?
Like Parlez, Here I am not sure. It seems Balkin knew the final result and was faiirly certain of Corso obtaining what he asked of him, but then our little she devil , Irene Adler, seems to know the outcome from the beginning.
Last edited by gemini on Sun Aug 17, 2008 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:46 pm

Parlez wrote:Merde! My answer to all the questions is the same: beats me!
This is another example of the convolutions in this book that went right over my head. I never got a firm grasp of who was speaking for whom. Corso certainly revealed more than a narrator - a third party, reporting from a distance - would be likely to know. Balkan was somehow magically able to get inside of Corso's head on many occasions, expressing his (Corso's) innermost thoughts and feelings. Does that mean Balkan was more than just a neutral Narrator? Was he something more; someone else; some otherworldly entity altogether??

Like the devil?

Parlez wrote:Well, as far as the last questions goes, I'd have to say noone seemed to be in 'control' of the narrative, except maybe the devil!

Like I said above. :lol:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Liz » Fri Aug 15, 2008 5:49 pm

gemini wrote:To whom, exactly, is Balkan revealing himself (as a narrator)?
I thought while reading it that it was to us the readers.

Why did Arturo Pérez-Reverte choose to use Balkan as a narrator?
I am not sure of Perez Reverte's motive but I felt that Balkin had a fascination or admiration for Corso. He was aware of his literary knowledge and knew he could be unscroupolous.

Is Corso also a narrator of the story?
Yes, He tells us of his past and we follow him through his investigation and feel his fears and see his unrelentless pursuit while wondering at his own capabilities..

Who is in control of the narrative?
Like Parlez, Here I am not sure. It seems Balkin knew the final result and was faiirly certain of Corso obtaining what he asked of him, but then our little she devil , Irene Adler, seems to know the outcome from the beginning.

Good one, gemini. It sure appears that way.

I was very confused when he says that it is time to reveal the narrator because I remember his narrating from the very first page. But then Balkan leaves the picture for most of the book (or as the reader, we don’t feel his presence). Thus, throughout most of the book up until this point where he “reveals himself” it feels like it is Corso who is narrating because we see everything through his eyes. Then in Chapter XV we start seeing the world through Balkan’s eyes. And a thought now just occurred to me…..

Maybe he means he is revealing himself as the one who is orchestrating this game--not only to us, the reader, but to Corso.
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby suec » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:28 am

I found the use of Balkan quite irritating when I first read the book. It seemed like a totally artificial, clunky and unbelievable device. But I think that’s the whole point. The author offers quite a debate about books and how we read them. I mean, look at the questions we’ve had already about this. It seems to be a book not just about The Nine Doors and T3M etc but also about The Club Dumas itself. A P-R is forever drawing our attention to how it’s written and making the techniques explicit so that we have to be aware of them. It has that effect for me anyway. It also had the effect of distancing me from the story so that I wasn’t able to get lost in it as I like to do. He reminds the reader that Corso is a character in a story. I also found it hard at times to place the narrator’s voice, being unsure whether or not he was always writing in role as Balkan. I can’t find a good example now, but here’s one that’s close: “Now, Corso was a steady character. Especially at this stage of the story” (Ch 10). And he has Corso thinking of himself as being like a character. At one point, he even speculates about himself being a fictional character being controlled by a writer. The consequence was that I was very aware of the writer at work – controlling the narrative.
I think he used Balkan as an unreliable narrator quite deliberately to trick the reader and further the debate about the reader’s responsibility –to take responsibility for what you believe and how you respond to what you read.
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby fansmom » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:45 am

Thank you, suec, for articulating so clearly what I didn't have the time/mental acuity to write! :hatsoff:

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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Parlez » Sat Aug 16, 2008 10:59 am

Oh, this reminds me so much of Luigi Pirandello's great play, Six Characters In Search of an Author! In it, six actors, assigned to play six parts in an unfinished play, appear on stage and try to convince the Director that they, themselves, can finish the story and perform a complete play. Only the actors keep interjecting their own real lives onto the characters they're supposed to be playing, which causes the Director to intervene, even though he doesn't have a clue about how the play is supposed to end either. The whole thing addresses the same issues P-R is addressing here: who's narrating, who's play-acting, who's real, and who the heck is in control? In the end, the audience, watching this play within a play, must decide.

Great stuff!
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:33 pm

I have absolutely nothing to add to everyone's great answers except :notworthy:
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 16, 2008 2:50 pm

suec wrote: I think he used Balkan as an unreliable narrator quite deliberately to trick the reader and further the debate about the reader’s responsibility –to take responsibility for what you believe and how you respond to what you read.

There ya go. :ohyes:


Parlez wrote:Oh, this reminds me so much of Luigi Pirandello's great play, Six Characters In Search of an Author! In it, six actors, assigned to play six parts in an unfinished play, appear on stage and try to convince the Director that they, themselves, can finish the story and perform a complete play. Only the actors keep interjecting their own real lives onto the characters they're supposed to be playing, which causes the Director to intervene, even though he doesn't have a clue about how the play is supposed to end either. The whole thing addresses the same issues P-R is addressing here: who's narrating, who's play-acting, who's real, and who the heck is in control? In the end, the audience, watching this play within a play, must decide.

Great stuff!

But this sounds more interesting…..maybe because, as the reader, you already know what the premise is.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Aug 16, 2008 4:51 pm

To whom, exactly, is Balkan revealing himself (as a narrator)? I thought he was revealing himself to us, the readers. Even though he tells us he is the narrator early on, he then kind of slips in to the background; he tells the story but there is not a lot of first person involvement so it is easy to pay little attention to the fact that it is Balkan speaking. Why did Arturo Pérez-Reverte choose to use Balkan as a narrator? I think because Balkan was the one pulling the strings as it were, sending Corso off on this chase, manipulating the outcomes, he was the logical one to tell the story because he "knew it all". He obviously knew Corso very well because he knew how Corso would respond to challenges and situations; it isn't made really clear how he knew Corso so intimately but perhaps there is more history than we are given. Perhaps Balkan also knew Nikon and Corso as a couple, or perhaps Corso had spoken of her. Maybe they were old drinking buddies? :-?

Is Corso also a narrator of the story? I don't see Corso as a narrator - I see Balkan as the narrator although at times he may allow Corso to demonstrate parts of the story.Who is in control of the narrative? For me it was Balkan all the way.

The last few days I have really felt like I am in way over my head in this discussion. :banghead: I really missed a lot when I read this book! I have purposely stayed away from a viewing of the 9th Gate until I need to refresh my memory for this discussion. The changing about of roles and names and events would totally befuddle me!

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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Liz » Sat Aug 16, 2008 6:01 pm

nebraska wrote: The last few days I have really felt like I am in way over my head in this discussion. :banghead: I really missed a lot when I read this book!

Me too! :hypnotic: Some of the questions I asked were very general philosophical questions that I had not really related to the story itself. But after delving into them further I see more how they relate to the book and make me see how P-R has so cleverly written a very intertextual novel.
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby Parlez » Sat Aug 16, 2008 8:01 pm

Liz wrote:
suec wrote: I think he used Balkan as an unreliable narrator quite deliberately to trick the reader and further the debate about the reader’s responsibility –to take responsibility for what you believe and how you respond to what you read.

There ya go. :ohyes:


Parlez wrote:Oh, this reminds me so much of Luigi Pirandello's great play, Six Characters In Search of an Author! In it, six actors, assigned to play six parts in an unfinished play, appear on stage and try to convince the Director that they, themselves, can finish the story and perform a complete play. Only the actors keep interjecting their own real lives onto the characters they're supposed to be playing, which causes the Director to intervene, even though he doesn't have a clue about how the play is supposed to end either. The whole thing addresses the same issues P-R is addressing here: who's narrating, who's play-acting, who's real, and who the heck is in control? In the end, the audience, watching this play within a play, must decide.

Great stuff!

But this sounds more interesting…..maybe because, as the reader, you already know what the premise is.

Really? I can't say that I know, even now, what the of premise is in TCD! :eyebrow:
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Re: TCD Question #12 - The Narrator

Unread postby nebraska » Sat Aug 16, 2008 11:30 pm

Liz wrote:
nebraska wrote: The last few days I have really felt like I am in way over my head in this discussion. :banghead: I really missed a lot when I read this book!

Me too! :hypnotic: Some of the questions I asked were very general philosophical questions that I had not really related to the story itself. But after delving into them further I see more how they relate to the book and make me see how P-R has so cleverly written a very intertextual novel.


Maybe. Or maybe this is just a perfect example of how reading is a solitary experience that is related to each person's individual identification with the subject matter. It appears that I am somewhat of a surface reader. :-?


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