Poetry is one of the few literary modes perceived to be situated outside the ever-widening narrative realm. Indeed, its non-narrativity is often cited as its most salient characteristic, with the lyric mode allegedly being all that the narrative is not: a-temporal, non-spatial, non-dynamic, non-specific, anti-illusionist.
This paper attempts to demonstrate that the lyric is and always has been heavily reliant on narrativity and its various textual strategies. While poetry does indeed at times present itself as a text type which features a disembodied, linguistically self-conscious voice reflecting on the timeless truths of the human condition, it rarely does so without resorting to devices of a clear narrative nature in order to heighten a text’s mimetic and emotional appeal.
Eva Mueller-Zettelmann is an associate professor at the University of Vienna. She studied in Graz and Oxford, has collaborated with Monika Fludernik and Ansgar Nuenning and has been appointed external expert to the Hamburg Interdisciplinary Centre of Narratology. Her work focusses on narratology, the theory of poetry, cognitive theory and contemporary British poetry.