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Narratives and NarratorsA Philosophy of Stories$
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Gregory Currie

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199282609

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199282609.001.0001

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(p.167) 9 Dis‐interpretation
Narratives and Narrators

Gregory Currie (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides an example of narration from an ironic point of view: Hitchcock's The Birds. It considers the roles of various devices in the expression of this point of view: the use of point of view shots, sound which is only ambiguously diegetic, careful placement of dialogue and action, and studied absence of explanatory material. From there an attack is launched on some of the ways in which this film has been interpreted, especially those ways that require us to attribute some symbolic significance to the birds. The chapter articulates a version of the view that the behaviour of the birds is related in informative ways to the psychological states of the characters, but concludes that the proposal does not work. A reflection is offered on the place of The Birds in the tradition of British horror narratives, with a brief discussion of relations to the work of M. R. James. It is suggested that Hitchcock and James exemplify an anti‐theoretical tendency in this tradition. The chapter concludes with speculation on the distinct cognitive profiles of scientific and supernatural ideas.

Keywords:   causal structure, Hitchcock, irony, James, sound, symbol, The Birds, the supernatural

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