Anglia Ruskin Research Online (ARRO)
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Magphur Past, a detective novel, with an accompanying critical commentary examining the challenge of character development in a multi-focal narrative

posted on 2023-08-30, 18:44 authored by Barry Howes
This thesis is in two parts: a novel and a critical commentary. Magphur Past is a detective novel set in a contemporary Indian city, Magphur. This place is an imaginative interpretation and extension of my experience and memories of Jalandhar. In my novel, detective Sharma investigates the murder of a European tourist whilst struggling with his guilt at having participated in a murder during his youth. The narrative form of Magphur Past is multi-focal. Each character in turn is the focaliser of a linear plot through the medium of free indirect discourse. The aim of this thesis is to examine the challenges which this narrative choice brings to character development and the effect of these challenges on the construction of a detective story. After discussing features of multi-focalisation – with reference to the work of Genette, Todorov and Friedman - I identify and discuss the pattern which my mapping of Magphur places on the plot and on the range of character views. I defend my use of free indirect discourse when defining character voice and refer to the work of Bakhtin, Zhongwen and Moretti before highlighting this medium’s use in the detective fiction genre. The creative dialogue between writer and character is of central importance here. I move to a discussion of place as a force which brings the novel’s perspectives together. I draw on the writing of Propp, Greimas and Malmgren to identify the features of the detective and the assistant before examining this genre trope, and the development of the main detective’s character, in the context of multi-focalisation. Throughout this thesis, I see multi-focalisation as a narrative method which can stretch accepted genre boundaries of detective fiction.



Anglia Ruskin University

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