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“It’s Personal”

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I checked in at the Booking Through Thursday blog, which is the host for a weekly book meme or blogging prompt. Here is this week’s prompt:

Do you have a preference between “person” in the books you read? Do you prefer third-person to first-person? Or don’t you care?
And … why??

I don’t have a preference as long as the book is coherent. I do feel differently reading a third-person narrative from a first-person one. First-person is more intimate but usually less reliable. The perspective is also more constraining and claustrophobic. Unlike in first-person narration, where the narrator is a character in the story, the third-person narrator does not describe his or her role in the action. A third-person narrative is rich in description and the prose more contemplative and lyrical. Third-person narrator is often omniscient narrator, who is able to recount things that could not have been known by any of the participants in the story, as when they relate the unexpressed thoughts of several characters. If I have to pick, I’ll prefer mystery in first-person and literary fiction third-person.

2 Responses

  1. One other option that seems to be common in older, more literary works is the first person narrator who is either not the main character (e.g., Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories) or who isn’t really part of the story at all (like a prologue/epilogue framing device, with most of the book essentially in third with perhaps an occasional interjection by the narrator).

    All styles of narration can have their place as long as the author uses them well. I’ve even seen second-person work in small doses.

  2. It’s interesting that you mentioned unreliable 1st person narrators. One of the first books I read that had a ‘highly selective’ narrator was “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” by Agatha Christie. At the time I was really cranky that she used that device but looking back, it was well done. Here’s mine Backchatting Books BTT

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