Reflecting on Paul Ricoeur's discussion of historical configuration and fictional emplotment, this article proposes to actualize his model to oppose two prototypes of narrativity, which form two poles between which narrative representations extend. Instead of basing these prototypes on narrative genres such as historiography and fiction, it compares the configuration of narratives designed to inform readers about the signification of a past event with the emplotment of narratives aiming to immerse readers in a simulated past or a fictive storyworld. While contemporary narratology has been mostly concerned with the latter case, we will see that a comparison between narratives belonging to these two poles can help us better understand the functioning of narrative texts, most of them situated between these two extremes. Drawing on stories of a plane crash found in daily newspapers and magazines, the article shows that news stories usually favor the informative function, but when an event cannot be fully told, information enters a process of serialization, leading to the emergence of a “natural” plot. This leads to the conclusion that artificial emplotment is an imitation of prefiguration rather than the triumph of concordance.

You do not currently have access to this content.