Call of the Wild and the Ethics of Narrative Strategies


  • Roman Bartosch



Call of the Wild, London, animal motif


How can the analysis of narrative structures contribute to the understanding of what makes a text´s "environmentality" (see Buell 2005:25)? By reading Call of the Wild from a narratological perspective and against the historicist foil of its discursive context, this paper seeks to illuminate how strategies of narration lend to an eco-centred reading - even despite the text´s apparent ethical orientation. The discursive circuit thus established enables a textual negotiation of diverging ethical convictions and aspects of compassion and giving voice to an animal. Eventually, reading and interpreting texts can thus be described as an "applied ethics" (Iovino 2010: 41) the features of which this essay seeks to describe as the "ethics of narrative strategies".



¿Qué puede aportar el análisis de estructuras narrativas a la comprensión de qué es lo que produce la “medioambientalidad” de un texto? Al leer Call of the Wild desde una perspectiva narratológica y en relación al historicismo de su contexto discursivo, este artículo buscar aclarar cómo las estrategias narrativas se presentan a una lectura centrada en lo ecológico – incluso a pesar de la aparente orientación ética del texto. El recorrido discursivo así establecido permite una negociación textual de convicciones éticas divergentes y de aspectos de compasión y del hecho de dar voz a un animal. Finalmente, la lectura e interpretación de textos puede por lo tanto describirse como una “ética aplicada” (Iovino 41) cuyas características este artículo busca describir como  “ética de estrategias narrativas.”


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Author Biography

Roman Bartosch

Roman Bartosch studied English, German, Political Sciences and Psychology at the universities of Cologne and Duisburg (Germany), respectively. His studies were completed with his state examination in 2009 after which he started working on his PhD thesis at the university of Duisburg-Essen, Germany. His interests and main fields of study are narratology, ecocriticism, postcolonial literature (esp. J.M. Coetzee) and the English novel of the 19th century. Roman Bartosch is currently working as junior lecturer at the University of Cologne, and he is writing his PhD-thesis on the intersection of postcolonial literature and ecocritical discourses.





General Section 1.2. Autumn 2010