This article argues that the origin of narrative lies in the “excuse and that the structure of the excuse marks what we nowadays consider as narrative. The defining feature of the excuse is that it provides a counter-version to the master story of the accusation and thereby opens a multiplicity of versions. Given an excuse, there is not just a plurality of possible plot developments but also a consideration of linguistic nuances when weighing responsibility. The excuse generates a context within which the acts of the speaker appear in a different light or as elements of a different story; hence, the excuse should be described as a context-generating act. The article considers the features of the excuse, links excuse and narrative, provides an evolutionary consideration of the function of the excuse narrative and indicates how the excuse narrative is a key feature of fiction.
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Fritz Breithaupt; The Birth of Narrative Out of the Spirit of the Excuse: A Speculation. Poetics Today 1 March 2011; 32 (1): 107–128. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-1188203
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