ABSTRACT

Lists, though regularly considered to be nonnarrative, exist just beyond the boundary of narrative proper. Modern authors frequently attempt to transgress this border in various ways, and occasionally to exaggerate it. Lists can also in certain cases transcend the literary/nonliterary boundary. An analysis of lists of proper names reveals a kind of narrative compulsion that often overwhelms the list proper. Beginning with a look at lists in Paradise Lost, this article traces out the shifting functions of lists in the work of Joyce, Tzara, Borges, Nabokov, Cabrera Infante, Perec, and Calvino and continues with an account of the power of lists on the protagonist of Lorrie Moore's story, “How to Be an Other Woman.” The article concludes with some theoretical reflections of the status of lists as proto-narratives.

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