A discourse is described as discours. Consequently, the concept is derived from the theory of theories. Together with the histoire, the discours form two elements of narrative, which are closely linked. The histoire refers to the narrated history of a text, whereas the actual text of a work is designated as discours.

This means that the histoire indicates what is happening in a work and thus means the actual history and events. In contrast, the discours. This describes how a text is told. Accordingly, there may be a fundamental difference between the two planes, namely that of chronology, that is, the temporal sequence of events.

The histoire means the chronological structure of a story and is thus the listing of all events in their actual order. On the level of the discours, however, there can be, of course, a flashback, antecedents, and, in addition, different narrative perspectives, which convey an event at the same time. Thus the terms are closely related to the Fabula and the subject.

The names refer to the linguist Tzvetan Todorov. Todorov borrowed the terms Emile Benveniste, a French linguist, and also enriched it with ideas from Boris Tomaševski, who proposed Fabula and Sujet. This knowledge is important in that the terms are partially blurred in the literary sciences and are ambiguous.

Note: In the following, it is to be clarified how discours and histoire are related to fabula and subject, which role play story and plot, and why the terms are partly confused.

Difference: discours, histoire, fabula and sujet
1925 Boris Viktorovič Tomaševskij suggested in his theory of the literature fabula and sjužet. The fabula means the chronological sequence of the events in a narrated text. The sjužet, on the other hand, is the order of events as presented in the text. Accordingly, they are covering or mean a different sequence (Fabel / Sujet).

It is true that the use of the terms has already been attributed to the Russian formalist Viktor Borisovič Šklovskij, but Tomaševskij is the one most commonly referred to. This is plainly justified by the fact that his treatises reached a certain popularity and became canonical.

Fabula to Tomaševskij (English story):
All events and motifs in the causal-temporal, logical connection
independent and therefore autonomous from the respective way of representation
Sujet to Tomaševskij (English plot):
Motifs of the fable, however, in order and linkage, as given in the work
affects the respective way of presenting a story
to this presentation include:
1. Structure of time as a sequence of events
2. Structure of space
3. Choice of the narrative perspective
The structuralist Tzvetan Todorov, in his essay “Les catégorie du récit littéraire” (1966) coined the terms histoire and discours, referring clearly to the terms fabula and sujet. The tricky thing is that he lends the terms of his French colleague Émile Benveniste and also enriches them with some aspects of the fabula and the sujets.

The main thing with Todorov’s approach is that he shares the narrative in two levels. Accordingly, there is one that illuminates the meaning of the narrative. What is being told at all? He describes this level as a histoire, that is, as a history. He also suggests a plain of the meadow. So how is it told? He describes this level as a discourse, that is, as a speech.

histoire to Todorov:
The histoire can be told differently. The histoire, therefore, means the actual story which is told entirely independent of its mode of representation
The histoire is an abstract: it does not exist in itself; it is non-existent in this form
The histoire evokes a reality with events and figures
These events (action) and the figures, but of course also the relationship of the figures among themselves (figure constellation), follow certain regularities
Such laws determine the reality of the figures of the narrated world (diegese) and are therefore effective and compulsory for all figures of the narrative
Conclusion: According to Todorov is the histoire
a) … the story, regardless of its mode of representation. However, this is an abstract which is not an existing quantity (the reason is that every content has already been told by somebody in some form and is thus already present as a discourse)
b) … the narrated world of a work. To this world belong the persons and the laws (rules) which determine their lives within the narrative as well as the action.
discours to Todorov:
The discours is the way in which the narrator conveys the events to the recipient
The discours includes:
Narrative aspects: It is about what the narrator knows. Does the narrator know more or less than the figures of his world? (for Genette, this is referred to as “focalization”).
Story mode: Who takes the story? Relationship between narrative speech and figurative speech as well as narrative perspective, what is shown and what said? (in Genette, this is the distance, it distinguishes between narrative, transposed, and dramatic speech, and focalization and distance are then summarized under the concept of mode.)
Time structure and differences of history in relation to histoire and discours
Conclusion: According to Todorov is the discours
a) … the representation of a story; how is this told?
b) … this refers to the narrative aspects (focalization), the narrative mode as well as the time structure
c) … a construct for which the narrator is responsible. Thus, this is part of the discours itself.
Note: The narrator in Todorov becomes an essential element, which itself contains discours. This is due to the fact that the narrator not only conveys a view of things (focalization) and conveys it by showing and saying, but also by arranging the individual events, that is, by placing them in the order in which he assigns them to the Reader shows (time structure).
It is also important that the E.M. Forster proposed the term “plot / plot” in the Aspects of the novel and related writings (1927). These have only a little in common with histoire and story. However, it is tricky to note that Todorov’s ideas were very well received and, for example, translated into English by Seymour Chatman, who took them as a story and discourse.

Consequently, the term story is doubly connoted in literary studies, although in both cases it means something different. This should be taken into account when reading and using the terms, in order to prevent disagreements and under certain circumstances be highlighted.

Short overview: The most important thing about the discours at a glance
The term discours goes back to the linguist Tzvetan Todorov and gives the answer to the question of how a story is told. Accordingly, it is invariably linked with the histoire. This describes what is actually told in the narrative.
The relationship between discour and histoire describes the narrative period and thus has a strong influence on the narrative. As a result, the relationship between the two levels can influence the rhythm of a work.
According to Todorov, the discours is thus the way a story is told, and in so doing it means, in particular, the time sequence, the narrative aspects and also the narrative mode.

local_offerevent_note September 18, 2017

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