Shagi / Steps the Journal of the SASH


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From sujet to plot and then to syuzhet

A. E. Efimenko
Lanzhou University, China, Lanzhou

DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2019-5-2-10-35

Keywords: fabula, syuzhet, fictional text, Russians Formalists, motivation, extensional-semantic motivations and intensional-semantic motivations, levels of the fictional text, fabula and syuzhet units, event,

Abstract: The fabula and the syuzhet of the fictional text are examined in this article. First, I provide some information regarding the etymology of these words, and then review some studies on poetics of the last 100 years or so. I note that only in the writings of the Russian Formalists was a distinction drawn at a high theoretical level between the meaning and the usage of the terms fabula and syuzhet. I explain the absence in the Formalists theorizing of the concept of composition and the presence of motivation as a very important semantic category of syuzhet construction. I assert that a detailed investigation of extensional-semantic (diegetic) motivations and of intensional-semantic motivations might significantly advance research into poetics. Instead, the majority of scholars writing on this subject in the second half of the 20th century blurred the clear distinction between the fabula and the syuzhet present in the work of the Formalists. In addtion, I note an alternative approach to the problem, fundamentally different from that taken by the Formalists.
Next, I briefly consider the question of the structure of the fictional text; this is seen as the question of the fictional texts levels. I point out that only a correct solution to the problem of differences between the units within the fabula and within the syuzhet can help us better comprehend the categories of fabula and syuzhet . I demonstrate that fabula units are quasireal events and a chain formed by them (5 members of the fabula), while syuzhet units are all the episodes of the text. Following that, I put forward a typology of episodes.
In my conclusion I emphasize that the fabula and the syuzhet are two levels of the same phenomenon the text object organisation as a whole. I put forward a new approach to syuzhetology: it is the study of the syuzhet as the episodisation of the text.

To cite this article: Efimenko, A. E. (2019). From sujet to plot and then to syuzhet. Shagi / Steps, 5(2), 1035. (In Russian). DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2019-5-2-10-35.