Second-person narrative

Second-person narrative

The second-person narrative is a narrative mode in which the protagonist or another main character is referred to by employment of second-person personal pronouns and other kinds of addressing forms, for example the English second-person pronoun "you".

You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard lounge. All might come clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. —Opening lines of Jay McInerney's "Bright Lights, Big City" ("August 12, 1984")

Traditionally, the employment of the second-person form in literary fiction has not been as prevalent as the corresponding first-person and third-person forms, yet second-person narration is, in many languages, a very common technique of several popular and non- or quasi-fictional written genres such as guide books, self-help books, "Do It Yourself"-manuals, interactive fiction, role-playing games, Choose Your Own Adventure series of novels, musical lyrics, court notices (including, but not limited to subpoenas, persona non grata notices, and affidavits), and advertisements.

Although not the most common narrative technique in literary fiction, second-person narration has, however, constituted a favoured form of various literary works within, notably, the modern and post-modern tradition. In addition to a significant number of consistent (or nearly consistent) second-person novels and short-stories by, for example, Michel Butor, Marguerite Duras, Carlos Fuentes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Georges Perec, and Jay McInerney, the technique of narrative second-person address has been widely employed in shorter or longer intermittent chapters or passages of narratives by William Faulkner, Günter Grass, Italo Calvino, Nuruddin Farah, Jan Kjærstad and many others (cf. the list of second-person narratives below).

List of second-person narratives

Narratives written consistently in the second person or narratives including chapters or larger and/or intermittent passages in the second person:

* Simon Armitage 1999 "All Points North"
* Iain Banks 1993 "Complicity"
* Samuel Beckett 1979 "Company"
* Lionel Britton 1931 "Hunger and Love"
* Michel Butor 1957 "La Modification" (tr. "Second Thoughts")
* Italo Calvino 1979 "Se una notte d’inverno un viaggiatore" (tr. "If On a Winter's Night a Traveler")
* Edwidge Danticat 1995 "Epilogue to Krik? Krak!"
* Junot Diaz 1997 "How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie)” from Drown"
* Marguerite Duras 1982 "La Maladie de la mort" (tr. "Malady of Death")
* Oriana Fallaci 1979 "A Man"
* Nuruddin Farah 1986 "Maps"
* William Faulkner 1936 "Absalom, Absalom!"
* Carlos Fuentes 1962 "Aura" (tr. "Aura")
* Carlos Fuentes 1962 "La muerte de Artemio Cruz" (tr. "The death of Artemio Cruz")
* Lewis Grassic Gibbon 1932 "Sunset Song"
* Sunetra Gupta 1993 "The Glassblower's Breath"
* Günter Grass 1961 "Katz und Maus" (tr. "Cat and Mouse")
* Nathaniel Hawthorne 1835 "The Haunted Mind" in "Twice-Told Tales" (1837)—
* Tara Ison 2007 "The List"
* A.M. Jenkins 2001 "Damage"
* A.L. Kennedy 2007 "Day"
* Jan Kjærstad 1993 "Forføreren" (tr. "The Seducer)
* Dennis Lehane 2004 "Until Gwen" in "The Atlantic Monthly"
* Karin Lowachee 2002 "Warchild"
* Jay McInerney 1984 "Bright Lights, Big City"
* L.E. Modesitt, Jr. 1992 "The Towers of the Sunset"
* Lorrie Moore 1985 "Self-Help" (six of the nine short stories are second-person narratives)
* Tim O'Brien 1990 "The Things They Carried"
* Robert O'Connor 1994 "Buffalo Soldiers"
* Stewart O'Nan 1999 A Prayer for the Dying
* Andrew Osmond 2006 "Young British Slacker"
* Chuck Palahniuk 2005 "Foot Work" in "Haunted"
* Iain Pears 2005 "The Portrait"
* Georges Perec 1967 "Un homme qui dort" (tr. "A Man Asleep")
* Richard Powers 2000 "Plowing the Dark"
* Ian Rankin "Glimmer" (Reprinted in the short story anthology "Beggars Banquet", 2002)
* Tom Robbins 1994 "Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas"
* Keith Roberts 1980 "Molly Zero"
* Matthew Woodring Stover 2005 (several vignettes between chapters)
* Charles Stross 2007 "Halting State"
* John Updike "How to love America and leave it at the same time" in "" 2003
* Jeff VanderMeer 2003 "Veniss Underground"
* David Foster Wallace 1999 "Forever Overhead"in Brief Interviews With Hideous Men"
* Tim Winton 2005 "Long, Clear View" in "The Turning"
* Christa Wolf 1976 "Kindheitsmuster" (tr. "Patterns of Childhood")
* Gao Xingjian 1990 "Ling Shan" (tr. "Soul Mountain")

ee also

* Point of view (literature)
* Narrator
* Role-playing games

External links

*cite paper | author = Schofield, Dennis | title = The Second Person: A Point of View? The Function of the Second-Person Pronoun in Narrative Prose Fiction | publisher = Deakin University | date = 1998-12-01 | url = | accessdate = 2007-03-29

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