Sounding Postmodernity: Narrative Voices in the Radio Adaptation of Alasdair Gray's Lanark
Abstract: Alasdair Gray’s novel Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) eludes generic categorization by crossing the boundaries between dystopian fiction, fantasy novel, life writing, and fiction marked by magic realism. In postmodern fashion, it plays with spatiotemporal frameworks and narrative order, shifts narrative voices, and perspectives and uses a multiplicity of presentational modes including dialogue and scholarly text commentary with encyclopedic annotations. In its “Epilogue,” the novel features metalepsis when it introduces the author, who talks to his protagonist about his work. The question arises how the novel’s radio play adaptation, first broadcast by the BBC on 1 November 2014, translates this playfulness into its own semiotic system. This paper particularly focuses on the narratological category of “voice” and explores what happens when narrators’ and characters’ voices are actualized in radio drama, how the radio play uses voice-over narration, voice qualities and the doubling of parts to create a recognizable as well as surprising aural storyworld. It also analyzes how sound techniques and music are employed to create narrative structures. Because of their medial instantaneousness and evanescence, radio plays arguably have to rely on disambiguation to make themselves accessible to a listening audience. However, as this paper shows, they also have a range of radiophonic techniques at their disposal to create narrativity on their own terms.
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...5 On the relation between music and narration, see Mildorf and Kinzel 2017 and Mohr 2015. rather meditative piano passages that underscore the melancholy content of the story, e.g., when the meeting of Blue with his former fiancée is recounted....