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The Narrative Complexity of Ordinary LifeTales from the Coffee Shop$
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William L. Randall

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199930432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199930432.001.0001

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The Story of My Life II

The Story of My Life II

Novelty, Identity, and Narrative

(p.52) Chapter 4 The Story of My Life II
The Narrative Complexity of Ordinary Life

William L Randall

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on how “the story of our life” contains, in fact, countless anecdotes or smaller stories, a few of which can soar above the others as especially pivotal to our sense of narrative identity. Referred to by various terms—signature stories, nuclear episodes, set pieces, or self-defining memories—such stories, upon closer reading, can tell us much about the unique angle from which we experience our world and the recurring themes that run through our lives. The second half of the chapter is taken up with a detailed recounting of one of the author’s own such stories, and equal space is devoted to “narrative reflection” upon, or “autobiographical reasoning” concerning, the place and function of this story within the author’s life-narrative as a whole.

Keywords:   life–literature connection, signature stories, nuclear episodes, narrative identity, narrative reflection, autobiographical reasoning, novel, novelty of our lives

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