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From Concept to Narrative Construct:

A Reader

Edited by
Jan Christoph Meister
Wilhelm Schernus

De Gruyter

Story-time and Fact-sequence-time*

1. Time Levels in Grammar and Narrative Theory

Modern narrative theory, in terms of its theory of time, distinguishes

between two time levels, discourse-time (Erzahlzeit, i.e., the time of
narration) and story-time {erzahlte Zeit, i.e., the narrated time).1 Dis-

* Editorial note: The literal translation for the German term ' Sachverhaltszeif is
'time of a state of fact'; the corresponding term central to this article is 'Sach-
verhaltsfolgenzeit', i.e. 'time of a sequence of states of fact'. In order to avoid these
unwieldy literal translations, we have decided to use the term 'fact' for 'state of
fact' (note that 'Sachverhalf in Harweg's usage refers to static situations as well as
to events), resulting in the terminological equivalents 'fact-time' for
'Sachverhaltszeif and 'fact-sequence-time' for 'Sachverhaltsfolgezeif. While the
distinction between an objective 'fact' and a 'state of fact' - i.e. a descnption or
conceptualisation of a fact, not the fact itself - is thereby partially obliterated, the
term 'fact' seems adequate in that Harweg's mam argument concerns the distinction
between representation of time in the form of 'story' and the (logically) pre-
supposed factual time that exists independently from narrative verbalisation. The
philosophical problem inherent to the notion of 'fact' is implicitly discussed in
Harweg's chapter 2.2.
The termini [i.e., discourse-time /story-time = Erzahlzeit / erzahlte Zeit] go back to
G. Milller (1947/1968, [transl. in this volume], and 1948/1968). However,
according to E. Lammert (1955: 257), the levels as such have been distinguished
earlier in literary studies by Th. Zielmski (1901), A. Heusler (1902) and E. Hirt
(1923). Lammert (1955) himself, carrying on from Milller, takes this opposition as
the focus point of his study Bauformen des Erzahlens {Forms of Narration). In the
non-German language area, B. Tomasevskij (1925/1965: 281) distinguishes
between 'temps de la narration' and 'temps de la fable', and T. Todorov (1966:
139) draws the line between 'temps du discours' and 'temps de Vhistoire\ S.
Chatman (1978/1983: 62) speaks of 'discourse-time' and 'story-time'. A.A.
Mendilow (1952: 36ff) speaks of 'pseudo-chronological or fictional time' instead
of 'story-time', and instead of 'time of the act of narrating', he speaks of
chronological time while making a distinction here between 'the reader's clock
time' and 'the writer's clock time'. Doing this, he stresses that he does not believe
that the 'time of the act of narration' or the chronological time are fictional. Or, like
me, he sees a difference between Activity as the attributes of certain sigmfier and
144 Roland Harweg

course-time is the time covering the action of narration, and story-time

is the time of what is being narrated within the framework of this ac-
This duality of time levels in narrative theory corresponds to the du-
ality of time levels in traditional grammar. In the models of tempus, a
distinction is made between time of 'discourse' and time of 'acting' or,
as I would prefer to say: between 'utterance-time' and 'fact-time'
CSachverhaltszeif). It is not surprising that in both disciplines, in lin-
guistics as well as in literary studies, two - or better: only two - levels
of time were viewed as basic, and in the main still are considered to be
so today, where the assumption appears to be widely accepted in liter-
ary studies. This duality is, after all, nothing else but a reflection of the
semiotic dichotomy of sigmfier and signified and thus a reflection of a
widespread semiotic opposition.
However, just as one occasionally realised the need to expand and
refine the dichotomist sign model in semiotic theory, various scholars
of tempus- and time levels felt a similar need to expand and refine the
dichotomy of the 'time of utterance' and the 'fact-time' - although
there is no direct relation between both expansions.2
In various articles, I myself attempted to prove that the two levels of
'utterance-time' and 'fact-time' are not sufficient to explain the German
tenses and the time levels which they indicate. Rather, an explanation
of the tenses makes it necessary to introduce a third time level: the time

signified and fictionality as the attribute of a certain relation between sigmfier and
signified. Thus, he would maintain that, in the case of fictional works (he and other
authors are only interested in those), only the 'story-time', but not the 'time of the
act of narrating' is fictitious. Also, other authors seem to understand the 'time of the
act of narrating' as a non-fictive phenomenon, measunng it, like e.g. Milller
(1947/1968: 257; in this volume 67-84), Lammert (1955: 32) and G. Genette
(1971: 99ff) into - non-fictitious - printed pages, or by understanding it as reading
time of a non- fictitious reader, like Tomasevsky (1925/1965: 281) and Chatman
(1978/1983: 62). But this is questionable from the point of view of terminology,
because, as soon as the term is taken literally - and that means it is related to the
producer - it becomes obvious that it can only be the production time of a fictitious
narrator who narrates orally, and not the time of writing of a non-fictitious author
(Milller 1947/1968: 257f; in this volume 67-84] already stresses this
emphatically). In return, the interpretation of the 'time of the act of narrating' as a
non-fictitious phenomenon was only possible because of these reinterpretations of
the term.
E.g. H. Reichenbach (1947/1966: 288; [in this volume p. 1-11]) with the
introduction of a .point of reference' (besides a 'point of speech' and a 'point of the
event'), and K. Baumgartner & D. Wunderlich (1969: 34ff) with the introduction
of a 'contemplation time' (Betmchtzeit) (next to 'speech time' and 'action time').
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 145

of the act of viewing, i.e. 'observation-time'. For example, the differ-

ence between the New High German tenses 'perfect' and 'preterit' and
between the time levels of 'perfect past' and 'imperfect past' indicated
by them, cannot be explained only by the levels of 'utterance-time' and
'fact-time', 'utterance-time', 'fact-time' and 'observation-time' all have
to be put in relation to each other.3
Transferring this insight to the field of narrative theory, I then sug-
gested in my article 'Das Riickschaukapitel in Thomas Manns Novelle
Der Tod in Venedig oder Welche Moglichkeiten eroffnet die Stagnation
der Betrachtzeit' ('The Retrospect Chapter in Thomas Mann's Novella
Der Tod in Venedig or Which Opportunities are Opened up by the Stag-
nation of the Time of the Act of Viewing?')4 to introduce the level of
the 'observation-time' into narrative time theory. Thus, its dichotomy
of 'discourse-time' and 'story-time' would be expanded into a tricho-
tomy of 'discourse-time', 'observation-time' and 'story-time'. But
while there cannot be any doubt of the necessity for this expansion, the
final question is if this is sufficient for an adequate description of the
complex relations between time levels in narrative texts.
This question does not only occur from an empirical perspective, it
already arises when comparing somewhat more precisely both tricho-
tomies and especially, within them, both levels that are seen as mutu-
ally corresponding, 'story-time' and 'fact-time'. It occurs, so to speak,
already under a purely conceptual point of view; because conceptually,
story-time is already a linguistic level, while fact-time is still an ex-
tra-linguistic level.5 Conceptually, the exact correspondence to the level
of story-time in narrative theory is not the tense-theoretical level of the
time of facts, i.e. of fact-time, but a tense-theoretical level of the
uttered, or better still, of the expressed time.
However - a tense-theoretical distinction between 'expressed time'
and 'fact-time' may make sense conceptually, even semiologically (as
it corresponds to the general semiological difference between signified
and non-signified facts or signified and non-signified objects).6 But it is
rather questionable whether such a distinction is really necessary. For
where do we find a gaping difference between the time that is ex-
See R. Harweg 1976,1977, and 1987: 1571T.
The article is still unpublished.
Story-time rs rnsofar already a lrngurstic level, as rt rs - textually seen - the
verbalrsed fact-time.
The establrshed srgn models, however, do not make such a drstrnctron because rt rs
not a semantic drstrnctron, that rs: not a langue-drstrnction, but a drstrnctron of the
srgmfrer, that rs: of the parole. I suggested a parole-onented srgn model into whrch
thrs drstrnctron rs integrated in R. Harweg 1980: 286ff
146 Roland Harweg

pressed in a certain tense and the time of its respective fact? Certainly,
if the time of a certain fact is not expressed, then it remains mere fact-
time and does not become and is not expressed time. But this is an ob-
servation that only has conceptual implications and not also empirical
ones; because as soon as the time of certain facts is expressed in a cer-
tain tense, then the time of these facts is also the expressed time, and
even as both time units are not similar, they are, nevertheless, congru-
ent. But in the framework of tense theory - which is mainly dealing
with individual tenses - this congruence may, from the empirical point
of view, still seem to render the said distinction of time levels obsolete.
Therefore, seen in empirical terms and in the framework of tense the-
ory, it still appears to make sense if we restrict the analysis to three
levels. So I uphold my suggestion to name these three levels 'utterance-
time' (Aufierungszeit), 'observation-time' (Betrachtzeit), and 'fact-
time' (Sachverhaltszeit).
However, this does not apply to narrative theory's time model. Ac-
cording to the academic opinio communis, it still relies on a mere two
level model that deals with the layers of the time of the act of narrating,
i.e. 'discourse-time' and the narrated time, i.e. 'story-time'. But neither
this model nor a tnchonomic concept, as I suggested in my essay 'The
Retrospect Chapter in Thomas Mann's Novella Death in Venice', will
suffice. In fact, narrative theory's time model requires an extension to a
concept of four levels. This four-level concept is a theoretical equival-
ent to the four-way distinction in tense theory between 'utterance-time',
'observation-time', 'expressed time' and 'fact-time' - distinctions
which I had suggested as conceptually, but not as empirically necessary
and useful. It is a correspondency which in a way takes shape as a syn-
tagmatic expansion of those tense-theoretical levels of time. Thus, the
concept of the 'utterance-time' is syntagmatically expanded into the
concept of 'discourse-time'; the concept of an 'observation-time' con-
gruent to the 'utterance-time' extends into one congruent to dis-
course-time and/or reception-time; the concept of 'expressed time' is
syntagmatically enlarged into 'story-time'; and the concept of 'fact-
time' expands syntagmatically into 'fact-sequence-time'.
While two of the four time levels in tense theory - the levels of 'ex-
pressed time' and of 'fact-time' - which can be distinguished conceptu-
ally concur empirically, as I already mentioned, their corresponding
levels in the framework of narrative theory and narrative theory of time
do not. In other words, the levels of story-time and of fact-sequence-
time do not correspond. This is a matter of great interest to a theory of
narrative time. It is especially relevant as it implies a theoretical exten-
sion to a four-level-concept, which exceeds the extension of the preval-
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 147

ent two-level-concept to a three-level concept that I anticipated in my

article 'The Retrospect Chapter in Thomas Mann's Novella Death in
Venice': Therefore, I will explore it more extensively below.

Some of the observations in the theory of time whrch have led to my suggestion to
drstingursh between the levels of story-time and fact-sequence-time have been
drscussed before, but always only - inadequately in my opinion - within the
framework of the traditional distinction between discourse-time and story-time.
Like the distinction itself, they are normally seen as attributes of those super
ordinate distinctions of levels in narrative theory whose elements have been
described in the English language with the terms 'story' and 'plot', with the terms
'sujet' {'sjuzet') and 'fable {'fabula') by Russian Formalists, like e.g. Tomasevskij
(1925/1965: 267ff; see also Erlich 1955), by Structuralists like Todorov (1966:
126ff) with the terms 'discours' ('discourse') and 'histoire' ('story'), by Lammert
(1955: 24ff) with the terms 'FabeV und 'Geschichte' (the first one being not on the
same side of the opposition as with the Russian Formalists), by Chatman
(1978/1983), following the French Structuralists, with the terms 'discourse' and
'story', and by Stanzel (1979: 39ff) with the terms 'Erzahlung' ('narration') and
'Erzahlung minusMittelbarkeif ('narration minus mediacy'). I cannot discuss here
in detail the question if my distinction can actually be correlated with the time
theoretical differences of these distinctions. Definitely, it has some strong points of
contact. Nevertheless, I would like to point out two aspects. First, I would like to
stress that the distinction that I suggested, contrary to the two established
distinctions, the time-theoretical and the general one, is not limited to the field of
art and fiction. Secondly, and also in contrast to the two established distinctions,
whenever my distinction is applied to this field, it always remains with both levels
in the field of fiction; none (or: not at least one) of the levels will transgress the
border towards non-fiction. Furthermore, finally, it can be assumed that the
distinctions in narrative theory of the type 'FabeF vs. 'Geschichte', 'plot' vs.
'story' or 'discours' vs. 'histoire' are not sufficiently differentiated and that they,
like the distinctions among time levels, can and have to be proved as elements of a
more differentiated system, like the time level distinctions of 'story-time' and 'fact-
sequence-time' and 'time of the act of narrating' and 'narrated time'. It seems that
Stierle (1971/1975) took an important step in this direction with his trichotomy of
'Geschehen' ('happenings'), 'Geschichte' ('story') and 'Text der Geschichte' ('text
of the story'). However, I believe that Stierle's explanation of his tnchotomy is not
concrete enough, so that I cannot recognise and judge the state of its elements.
Another tnchotomy, a distinction between 'histoire', 'recif and 'narration', has
been suggested by Genette (1983: lOf). Genette's level of the 'histoire' seems to
correspond to Stierle's level of 'Geschichte', and Genette's level of 'recif to
148 Roland Harweg

2. Fact-sequence-time
The phenomenon of 'fact-sequence-time' is not a homogeneous one in
itself, and it not only permits division into sub phenomena but it can
also be divided into different sub-phenomena from differing perspect-
ives. I divide it into different sub phenomena under two points of
views, that is, an ontological and an epistemological.

2.1 Fact-Sequence-Time from an Ontological Point of View

From the ontological point of view, a material and a formal fact-

sequence-time can be distinguished. Material fact-sequence-time is the
time that is constituted by the consequences of a material fact, and
formal fact-sequence-time is the time constituted by the consequences
of a formal fact. Material facts not only structure time but also fill it
with substance, or, in other words, these are all facts that constitute sub-
stantial time. On the other side, formal facts only structure time but do
not fill it with substance, or in other words: they only constitute empty
time. Thus, material facts are facts in the proper sense, actions, incid-
ents or situations. On the other hand, formal facts are clock and calen-
dar time, that is, facts in the broadest sense. Thus, material facts are ac-
tions such as those signified by sentences like 'Karl went to town' or
'Peter wrote a letter', incidents signified by sentences like 'It began to
rain' or 'A strong storm arose', or situations signified by sentences like
'It was very cold' or 'The population was well'. In contrast, formal
facts are facts like the one signified by sentences like 'Today is May 5'
or'We have the year 1939'.
Of course, material and formal facts are not two categories without
any interrelation. We know that the formal facts are founded, directly or
indirectly, in certain material ones, like the course of the day is founded
in the rotation of the earth around itself and the course of the year in the
rotation of the earth around the sun. But when it comes to the denota-
tions of the mere calendncal information - and, last not least, the nu-
merical components contribute or contributed to it - then the material
occurrences have been pushed to the background to a degree that makes
their characterisation as opposed to the material facts look justified and
Stierle's level of the 'Text der Geschichte'. However, Genette's level of 'narration'
as the level of the expression of the text of the story seems to go beyond Stierle's
trichotomy at the point of the expression of the text of the story, and Stierle's level
of 'Geschehen' seems to go beyond Genette's tnchotomy at the point of 'histoid.
Consequently, Genette's tnchotomy is not corresponding to Stierle's level of
'Geschehen' and Stierle's tnchotomy does not seem to have a conespondence to
Genette's level of 'narration'.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 149

reasonable. This is, of course, even truer for clock time statements than
it is for calendncal statements.
The level of material as well as the level of formal fact-sequence-
time consists of a multitude of strands. However, the number of strands
of formal fact-sequence-time comprises only a small percentage of the
number of strands of material fact-sequence-time; for the majority of
the strands of formal fact-sequence-time is, as is generally known, only
a function of the difference between geographical places, and for those
places that belong to the same time zone, only one single strand of
formal time is valid anyway. This aside, differences of time zones do
have a more or less clear effect on clock time and day limits, but -
since the extensive worldwide leveling of culturally founded differ-
ences in calendars - they impact only insignificantly on the year limits.
Of time differences on a higher level, only the seasonal differences
between places of the northern and places of the southern hemisphere
on earth are not accessible to the worldwide leveling, because they are
not culturally, but geographically and astronomically founded, unless
you do not define the seasons according to the state of the sun, but ac-
cording to their sequence in the course of the year, in other words, in
their sequence in the course of a year that begins or could begin at the
same time everywhere, with a difference of maximally one day.
Formal strands of fact-sequence-time are, different from the material
ones, not only few in numbers but can also, because of the equality of
the length of their units, be correlated to each other. Therefore, it would
be theoretically possible to reduce the various formal strands of fact-
sequence-time to a single one. In fact, this is exactly what has been
done in astronomy by declaring the medial time of the zero meridian of
Greenwich to be the normal time known as 'world time'. Different
from the formal strands, the various material strands of fact-sequence-
time cannot, as was stated above, be correlated to each other because
they are not composed of elements of the same length. They can also
not be correlated to each other as complete units. Aside from cases in
which different material strands of fact-sequence-time meet each other
and then partially interfere with one another - for they run, in contrast
to locally different formal strands, not always separately - and aside
from cases in which they run at the same place, we do not even know
how they could be localised in time with respect to each other as units.
Such localisation of locally different material strands of fact-sequence-
time that do not appear in the same area of perception is generally only
possible by a recourse to units of formal fact-sequence-time.
But material strands of fact-sequence-time can often, even in most
cases, not be correlated to each other. Moreover, in most cases, a mater-
150 Roland Harweg

ial strand of fact-sequence-time cannot be clearly identified at all, or,

more precisely, it is not easy to say how to define or segregate it. This
difficulty refers to the dimension of consecutiveness as well as to the
dimension of simultaneity. Nevertheless, certain material strands of
fact-sequence-time seem to exist which are able to eliminate this diffi-
culty or at least keep it within limits. These are those strands of fact-
sequence-time that are connected to a certain individual - to an indi-
vidual and not to a certain temporal allo-individual8 or a group of indi-
viduals. If we connect, by definition, strands of fact-sequence-time to
an individual instead of to a certain allo-individual of this individual, be
it a lifetime-allo-individual or a moment-allo-individual, we avoid the
difficulty of having to identify additional criteria in the dimension of
consecutiveness for a beginning and an end of the strands, in other
words, criteria for definition and segregation. Connecting the strands of
fact-sequence-time to individuals instead of groups of individuals also
allows a practical definition and segregation in the dimension of- sim-
ultaneous - coexistence of facts and sequences of facts (fact-
sequences). Of course, with the advantages of these two connections,
there are also certain disadvantages. Of these, the greatest are those
consisting in the exclusion of all facts and sequences of facts that do
not hold individuals as their elements, and these are not few, even if we
extend the concept of the individual to individual objects. But the set of
those facts and sequences of facts may be everything else but insigni-
ficant - because it not only comprises facts and sequences of facts
which are connected to diffuse groups of individuals but also those that
hold neither individuals nor groups of individuals as their elements - in
any case, the set of facts and sequences of facts connected to individu-
als is still so large that they are able to define the concept of material
fact-sequence-time in a representative way. For the time being, we will
regard such an exemplifying partial inclusion of the concept as suffi-
In the area of the formal as well as in the area of the material strands
of fact-sequence-time, there is, next to the many simultaneously paral-
lel running strings, also a group of simultaneous strings which run quasi
on top of each other. They differ by various degrees of abstraction and
corresponding inclusion. In the same way as the formal strand of fact-
sequence-time is defined by a certain geographical place and can be
measured in units of various degrees of inclusion, like e.g. hours, days,
or years, the material strand of fact-sequence-time too can be defined
I define a temporal allo-individual in a certain analogy to terms like 'allophone' or
'allomorph' as a temporal phase in the life of an individual which stands for the
individual as such. See R. Harweg 1991.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 151

by a certain individual, and can be deconstructed into facts of various

degrees of inclusion. To name two quite extreme ways of deconstruc-
tion: the deconstruction of a material strand of fact-sequence-time con-
nected to a certain individual as a curriculum vitae or biography, is, as
we know, considerably more extensive than the deconstruction of a di-
ary that is kept lifelong, first by the parents of the individual and then
by the individual itself. It is true that neither the curriculum vitae nor
the diary are restricted to the mere deconstruction of the material string
of fact-sequence-time - both correlate this deconstruction with the de-
construction of the accompanying formal strands of fact-sequence-time
of the respective individual. For example, they indicate in which year
resp. on which days the respective facts took place, but this correlation
does not change anything in the principal self-reliance of the correlated
The inclusive and less inclusive sequences of facts are, so to speak,
different deconstructions of one and the same substrate of a fact. It is
true that they constitute respectively different strands of fact-sequence-
time, but their difference is completely different from the difference of
simultaneously parallel running strands of fact-sequence-time, that is,
from those that - in the area of material sequences of facts - are tied
between those sequences that are connected to various individuals. For
the sequences of facts that run on top of each other represent, in the
form of the common substance, in each case a kind of indirect identity.
The sequences of facts running parallel to each other are, by lack of a
common substance, are not even indirectly identical.

2.2 Fact-Sequence-Time from the Perspectives of Epistemology

and Knowledge Theory

Other than from the ontological point of view, the phenomenon of fact-
sequence-time can also be sub-categonsed from the perspectives of epi-
stemology and knowledge theory.
The main distinction from the perspective of epistemology and
knowledge theory is the one between objective and subjective fact-
sequence-time. But can the fact-sequence-time that has been labelled as
objective really be recognised and known? Is not a fact-sequence-time
that is not perceived or, to be more precise, not perceived and experi-
enced, and more so, the fact-sequence-time that is only known in retro-
spect eo ipso always a subjective fact-sequence-time?
Yes and no. Yes insofar as the perceived and experienced fact-
sequence-time is, in fact, always subjective, if and as long as the per-
ceiving-experiencing entity is a human being, or, more precisely: a
152 Roland Harweg

mere human being, a human being with human possibilities and abilit-
ies. But not if the perceiving-experiencing and the perceived then re-
cording and then knowing entity is, in place of a human being, a film
camera or a sound recorder or, instead of the ordinary human being, a
Active super human. Both entities register, as one is inclined to assume,
objectively the fact-sequence. The objective eye of the camera has
already become proverbial. And why should a fictitious super human
who is able to perceive, like the majority of fictitious third person nar-
rators in fictional narratives who can perceive what the characters
which they narrate about think and feel, not be in a position to perceive
sequences of facts objectively and then save them objectively in their
brains? At least, each longer conversation that is reproduced literally
bears witness to their super human abilities to save the experienced and
to recall it from their memory.
To recapitulate: a fact-sequence-time that is perceived, saved and re-
called by a normal human being is subjective, but this subjective fact-
sequence-time is subjective in varying degrees. The least subjective, of
course, is a fact-sequence-time that is perceived isochromcally; all re-
membered fact-sequence-times are more subjective. At best, they can
meet the relative degree of objectivity of isochromcally perceived fact-
sequence-time on selected occasions. Of course, even on selected occa-
sions, they cannot surpass it. What they are able to surpass and occa-
sionally really do surpass is the degree of understanding because a re-
membered sequence of facts is probably often understood better than an
actually perceived one.
At certain points, a specific kind of fact-sequence-time can interfere
with the remembered fact-sequence-time that runs through all degrees
of closeness and distance to objectivity. I would like to name it 'recon-
structed fact-sequence-time'. As a rule, the reconstruction aims at elim-
inating gaps or doubts in the remembered 'fact-sequence-times' accord-
ing to certain facts. But this can also lead to a retrospective correction
of sequences that did not, at first, raise any doubts in memory. At least
in the most favorable cases, the reconstruction is able to insert compon-
ents of objective fact-sequence-time into strands of subjective fact-
sequence-time und thus to objectify them partially. However, this ob-
jectification can probably only be relative, as it can never totally elim-
inate the subjectivity of its base.
The re-constructible fact-sequence-time, or more precisely: the re-
constructible components of fact-sequence-time can be reconstructed in
detail to a varying degree. Accordingly, their share in fact-sequence-
times differs. It is the greater the less detailed it is, supposed that it is
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 153

re-constructible, or, in other words: the more we forego details in our

attempts to reconstruct.
Not only a person who remembers attempts to reconstruct compon-
ents of past fact-sequence-time, but so, too, does a reader. Like the per-
son who remembers attempts to reconstruct components of sequences
of facts that he himself has experienced or done, the reader tries to re-
construct not only, but predominantly, those that he has not experienced
or done himself. This activity is most widely spread among the readers
of non-fictional texts, and especially among the readers of historical
documents, that is, among historians who attempt to reconstruct histor-
ical events. But of course, less spectacularly and more subconsciously
than consciously, this is also done by readers of fictional texts, and
here, the fact-sequence-time is, of course, a fictitious one.9 However,
this is sometimes understood neither by the authors nor by the readers,
laymen or philologists alike.10

3. Story-time and its Differences to Fact-Sequence-Time

Whatever the authors of narrative texts, non-fictional as well as fiction-

al ones, narrate - which the latter can only do through a medium, the
instance of the fictitious narrator - is in itself not fact-sequence-time,
but story-time. This is a form of time that is, as we mentioned before,
not only terminologically but also empirically different from the form
of fact-sequence-time. What then are these differences from the empir-
ical point of view?

The level of fictitious fact-sequence-time attributed to a fictional text is the time
level of rts fictitious world. It rs a fictitious world drfferent not only from our non-
fictitious world (within which the interpreters of fictional narrative works
occasionally saw fit to locate the level of represented events, as opposed to that of
the plot). It is also different from the level manifesting itself in terms of tables of
contents, headlines of chapters and drafts, a level on which F.K. Stanzel (1979,
39ff) believed the story of a fictional narrative work to manifest itself. For while
the facts embedded in the fact-sequence-time are at the same time also entities
which the fictitious narrator has found to exist in his fictitious world, the facts
referred to in tables of contents, headlines of chapters and drafts, are entities that
only exist in the imagination of non-fictitious authors. On tables of contents and
drafts, see besides Stanzel 1979: 39ff, also R. Harweg 1979a.
Normally, the time of which a fictitious text narrates should not be regarded as
fictitious, at least not when it is dated, using data of years.
154 Roland Harweg

3.1 The Parameter of Selection

The main parameter by which story-time, from the empirical point of

view, differs from fact-sequence-time is the parameter of selection. For
it can be assumed that story-time in general covers only part of- alto-
gether only a very small part - of the fact-sequence-time, at least, of the
objective one." Of course, this is mainly true for the totality of strands
of fact-sequence-time, for the unmanageable totality of those countless
strands of fact-sequence-time that partly follow each other, partly run
parallel, and partly cross each other in one or the other way, and many
of those are not even perceived - let alone remembered or even nar-
rated. But beyond this, it is also true for those strands of fact-sequence-
time that are actually being narrated; because of those strands, only a

The parameter of selection has been observed in literature on narrative theory
before. However, here it is inappropriately addressed within the framework of a
different opposition of time levels, that is in the traditional opposition of 'discourse-
time' (Erzahlzeit) and 'story-time' {erzahlte Zeit). An example for this treatment of
the parameter is the one by G. Genette (1971: 99ff) and following him, S. Chatman
(1978 [1983]: 68ff). They recur to the term of ellipsis, a term that refers to the
restitution of time and form, so to speak, the systematically complementary term to
selection. Chatman defines this term as a procedure of narration in which the
discourse-time is not only shorter than the story-time but almost zero. According to
him, only in this way can the discourse-time continue, if, for example, there are
three of four non-narrated hours between two chapters. These three of four hours of
story-time are then zero. But such an interpretation is obviously wrong because the
process of narration - and only this constitutes this narration - is not interrupted
between the two chapters. At least, we have no indication for the assumption that
the fictitious narrator paused at the end of a chapter or that he paused there for a
longer time, as a fictitious reader would pause and which would correspond to the
contingent of empty space in the written text. Although, under certain
circumstances, he is not refused a chance to pause there, like e.g. a fictitious reader
is not refused a chance to pause there, perhaps for several hours, but such a pause
would obviously not stand in an intrinsic relation to an accordingly long non-
narrated time, more precisely: an accordingly long non-narrated fact-sequence-time.
That shows that the correlation of story-time and discourse-time, as interesting as it
may be as a playful moment, does not make sense from the point of view of theory.
Not story-time and discourse-time, but story-time and fact-sequence time are the
levels which logically have to be compared with each other when dealing with
selection according to time of an ellipsis. For only two levels can logically be
compared to each other that, like the level of story-time and fact-sequence-time, are
related in, semiotically seen, a naturally motivated way, and not two levels that, like
story-time and discourse-time, are in an artificial-arbitrary relation to each other.
The relation - more precise: the durative relation - between story-time and
discourse-time is not of semiotic, but only of physical interest.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 155

small number are actually narrated. Only some punctual discontinuing

details are being narrated, at least in detail. This can be especially
clearly recognised when looking exclusively at the story-time of an in-
dividual text; for there, in many cases, the non-narrated gaps in the in-
dividual strands of fact-sequence-time are explicitly marked by certain
expressions for sections of formal time. When, for example, a new
chapter in a narration starts with the expression 'two years later', then
this expression is an indicator that two years of this strand of fact-
sequence-time, at least the material variety of it, are jumped and omit-
ted, under the condition that the same strand of fact-sequence-time is
being continued, for example, the life story of one and the same person.
If they are not made up retrospectively at a later point - something that
can only be done selectively - they remain omitted.
If you do not want to confine yourself to one individual text and if
you are ready to consult several or even as many texts as are possible
and relevant for the narration of certain strands of fact-sequence-time,
then the narrative coverage of the relevant strand of fact-sequence-time
should be less incomplete or punctual. Rather, it is very likely that the
relevant strands of story-time complement each other mutually and
consequently and fill part of the gaps within the said strand of fact-
sequence-time left by the individual strands. Certain parts of this strand
will be even narrated in several texts. However, even with a relatively
large number of texts dealing with one and the same strand of fact-
sequence-time (and whose authors have not copied each other but who
have narrated what they experienced by themselves), a considerable
part of the relevant strand of fact-sequence-time will remain un-nar-
rated and therefore, will have no correspondence on the level of the
story-time. Even when some parts of the strand of fact-sequence-time
are narrated several times, this deficit will obviously not be balanced.
The number and size of gaps of story-time in relation to the fact-
sequence-time differs strongly according to the use of written texts
only, or if oral texts (and their traces of memory) are also taken into
consideration. Accordingly, in order to fill existing gaps, historians of
contemporary history make an effort to not only make use of the writ-
ten documents that they can acquire but also, if possible, to use oral
texts that reproduce the experiences of their authors.
Sometimes, some of the gaps that cannot be closed in this way may
be closed by reconstruction in regard to certain details and to certain
stages of abstraction, but very often, partly because of contradictory
and partly because of information that cannot be interpreted in a non-
ambiguous way, the attempt to reconstruct only leads to hypotheses
with a limited degree of probability. A beautiful and perhaps - accord-
156 Roland Harweg

ing to the relation of its size to the specificity of the genre poetics of the
text - unique example for such an attempt to reconstruct, is the chapter
'Disappeared Journey' in Peter de Mendelssohn's Biography of Thomas
Mann Der Zauberer (The Magician)" It is devoted to the reconstruc-
tion of an unknown trip of Thomas Mann to Pans. In this chapter, the
biographer evaluates oral as well as written documents. The first ones,
utterances by Thomas Mann's wife Katja, state that she does not know
anything about this trip, and the latter, quotations from letters and other
texts by Thomas Mann, hint only ambiguously and more or less indir-
ectly to this trip.
The strands of story-time, belonging to various texts that are inde-
pendent of each other, but relating to one and the same strand of fact-
sequence-time, differ from it in the way that they, put together, do not
form a strand themselves. Rather, they may only be able to form one in
a re-narration that integrates them in a line. But this lack of succession
and linearity of those strands can also be found in the opposite direction
when a multitude of more or less simultaneous strands of fact-
sequence-time corresponds with one strand of story-time within a
single text. Thus, for a linguist who cares for symmetry between the
levels, this would be no reason to desist from a consideration of strands
of story-time that can be related to one single strand of fact-sequence-
time in a multitude of texts.
However, already on the level of the practitioner, it is not always
possible to recur to a multitude of texts in order to mutually integrate in
a linear fashion their respective strands of story-time so that they can be
related to one and the same strand of fact-sequence-time. Although this
can be done, at least principally, in the field of non-fictional narratives,
that is, in the non-fictional cosmos of narration (where one has to apply
this strategy for practical reasons, as for example in the case of judges
and historians), it is principally not possible to follow this approach in
the field of fictional narrative texts. To recur to other fictional texts is
not an option if we understand by fictional text, as is the general rule,
only the highest-order and most inclusive fictional narrative. In other
words, we exclude the possibility to recur to embedded conversations
or letters inside a narrative or a novel but may only use the respective
narratives and novels themselves and, in case the narratives are com-
ponents of a consistent series or and the novels components of a con-
sistent cycle, then we may recur to these series and cycles themselves.
For all these most integrative fictional texts relate to only one fictitious
world respectively. That means, for example, that the strands of story-
time in various novels which do not happen to belong to one and the
See P. de Mendelssohn 1975: 764-69.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 157

same cycle, always also relate to different strands of fact-sequence-

time, if not even to strands of fact-sequence-time belonging to different
fictitious worlds. Therefore, they can never be integrated into each oth-
er in a linear way. Even if it sometimes looks, because of reference to
similar places or similar dates, as if the plot is set at the same place and
at the same time - in reality, it only takes place at homologous places
and at homologous times that may have similar characteristics and bear
the same names but that belong to existentially different - fictitious -
On the other side, it is possible that the story-time of one and the
same fictional text is distributed among different strands of fact-
sequence-time; and the more voluminous the text, the more use is made
of this possibility. It provides a wide area for more detailed studies to
explore to which degree these various strands of fact-sequence-time of
a fictitious world related to such a text will run in parallel, and to which
degree they will follow after each other."
Consecutiveness and simultaneity are also the basic questions when
it comes to the strands of fact-sequence-time in one and the same ficti-
See R. Harweg 1979a and 1979b.
Also E. Lammert (1955:85) points to the simultaneity of strands of fact-sequence-
trme, albert not in the framework of the opposrtron of fact-sequence-trme to story-
time, but, as rs customary in narrative theory wrthrn lrterature analysis, rn the
framework of the drstrnctron of story-time and drscourse-trme. Srmultaneously
runnrng events are, according to Lammert, rn a specral fnctron to the
consecutiveness of the narration. But at one pornt, he writes, lrberally quoting, that
the classrcal phrlologrst Zielmski proved rn an 'interesting study' that rn the Iliad,
'events that ran srmultaneously rn realrty (...) were moved rn a way by the narrator
rn therr narrated time (!), that the "consecutive narration turns rnto a consecutive
state of facts" (Zrelrnskr 1901: 434)' (Lammert 1955: 85 [our translation]). Here
appears, at least for a short moment, the opposrtron of fact-sequence-trme and story-
time. But Lammert obvrously drd not trust thrs opposrtron. At least, rt seems that he
drd not see rt as normal; for he put an exclamation mark behrnd the expressron 'rn
therr narrated time'. However, one has also to agree to thrs exclamation mark
objectively because probably thrs case rs not the normal case rn the relatronshrp
between the 'fact-sequence-trme and story-time, and thrs especrally since the Iliad
is a fictional text. It seemingly should deal with the case in which the story-time
rncorrectly reflects the fact-sequence-time - as is the case in lies and false accounts
- rn a srgmfrcant way, that rs, not only through mere omrssrons, perspectives, and
srgnalrsed conversrons - albert possrbly not on purpose. But rn fictional texts, such
corruptions cannot be realrsed from the outsrder perspective of a non-frctrtrous
reader; at best he can only realrse contradrctrons. Thus, one rs inclined to ask how
Zielinski, after all, in his study of the Iliad, could come to the conclusion that
something that rs narrated as happemng consecutively, happened srmultaneously rn
158 Roland Harweg

tious world that are related to the strands of story-time in various em-
bedded narrative texts, for example, various conversations or letters
that occur in one and the same novel. However, the strands of story-
time of various conversations and/or letters in one and the same novel
do not have to relate necessarily to different strands of fact-sequence-
time, they can relate to one and the same strand. In this case and under
certain circumstances, they allow a linear mutual integration.
The phenomenon of narrative invention seems to be in opposition to
the phenomenon of narrative selection; for, in the same way as the phe-
nomenon of narrative selection leads to the underrepresentation of the
level of story-time against the level of fact-sequence-time, the phe-
nomenon of the narrative invention, that is, the phenomenon that seems
to basically constitute narrative texts, seems to lead to an overrepresent-
ation of the level of story-time compared to fact-sequence-time. But do
the fictional narrative texts, as implied in the term of overrepresenta-
tion, really miss the level of fact-sequence-time?
This is a question which, at a closer look, cannot be answered off-
hand in this way because, strictly speaking, the expression 'fictional
narrative text' is a contradiction in itself. Strictly speaking, it signifies a
phenomenon belonging to two different worlds, on one hand to this our
non-fictitious world, and on the other hand to a certain fictitious one -
two worlds with different creators of this phenomenon, the non-ficti-
tious author and the fictitious narrator.15 As a product of the fictitious
narrator, the text is a narrative only in his fictitious world, and there we
find, as has been stressed several times, a level of fact-sequence-time in
addition to the level of story-time. But in this our non-fictitious world,
the so-called fictional narrative text is no narrative in the strict sense
but only an invention. But if in this, our non-fictitious world, it is not
narration, then it cannot possess a level of story-time. Can it then have
a level of fact-sequence-time? Not a really secure one. At best an inven-
ted one. But should one not simply call it the level of invented time? In
any case, the phenomenon which has been defined as overrepresenta-
tion of story-time over fact-sequence-time, is, at least as far as the so-
called fictional narrative texts are concerned, a mere pseudo-phenomen-
on. It remains to be seen if this is also the case with lies,that is, in the
case of texts that cannot be counted as fictional texts although they do
represent inventions albeit combined with certain elements of reality.

See Harweg 1979a and 1979b.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 159

3.2 The Parameter of Direction

Apart from the parameter of selection, the level of story-time differs

from the fact-sequence-time mainly in terms of the parameter of direc-
tion; and the directions in which story-time elapses run in different di-
mensions. For the fact-sequence-time, or to be more precise, the section
of it that corresponds to the story-time of one single narrative text, is
not one-dimensional - as the term 'sequence' may suggest - but a quasi
three-dimensional phenomenon. It is three-dimensional because of a
multitude of different strands running in parallel, and also because of a
certain number of strands of fact-sequence-time that run on top of each
other. Therefore, the movements of the story-time that partially corres-
ponds to this fact-sequence-time are not limited to one dimension, that
is to the consecutive dimension - which is, however, the leading and
main dimension - but they also take place in the two other dimensions,
the parallel dimension and the dimension of one-upon-the-other.16
As already mentioned above, the parallel dimension is formed by
isochronal strands of fact-sequence-time which differ in place or per-
sons. The dimension of one-upon-the-other is formed by strands of
fact-sequence-time that are isochronal and/or refer to the same places
Similarly to the parameter of selection, the parameter of the direction of the story-
time has also not remained unreflected in narrative theory, let alone undetected -
albeit only in connection with the consecutive dimension. In the same way as the
parameter of selection, it has been discussed in the framework of an inadequate
opposition - that is the opposition between story-time and discourse-time - for it
was seen as a phenomenon on the level of discourse-time instead of a phenomenon
of story-time. E. Lammert (1955: 34 [our translation]), e.g., speaks of the
'rearrangement of parts of the story time in the course of narration', and S.
Chatman (1978 [1983]: 63) writes: 'The discourse can rearrange the events of the
story [...].' It has to be granted that the talk of rearrangements in the course of the
narration resp. of the rearrangement by the discourse can also refer to matters of
content, and probably is meant so sublimmally - even a term like the reversal of the
direction of the narration might be meant like this. But if, besides the level of story-
time, only the level of discourse-time is known, then story-time has to be seen as
the object of the rearrangement, along with Lammert, and the rearrangement itself
has to be regarded as a phenomenon of discourse-time. Also Chatman (1978
[1983]: 63) must see it that way, as he understands his sentence 'The discourse can
rearrange the events of the story [...]' as a specification of his statement -
following G. Genette -, that the arrangement ('order', W r e ' ) is a time relation
between 'story-time' and 'discourse-time'. Chatman's terms 'story-time' and
'discourse-time' correspond exactly - and so do his definitions of those as 'the
duration of the purported events of the narrative' resp. 'the time it takes to peruse
the discourse' (1978 [1983]: 62) - to the German terms ' erzahlte Zeif and
160 Roland Harweg

and persons, but differ in abstraction. As far as story-time is concerned,

it is able to connect isochronal facts of parallel running strands or
strands of fact-sequence-time that run on top of each other, in the same
way as it is able to follow facts of one and the same or of different
strands of fact-sequence-time. If it follows consecutive facts, I will call
it and the dimension of fact in which it moves, longitudinal; if it con-
nects isochronal facts of parallel strands of fact-sequence-time, I will
call it and the dimension of fact in which it moves, latitudinal, and if it
connects isochronal or better still, partly isochronal strands of fact-
sequence-time - for different degrees of abstraction only allow partial
isochrony - then I will call it and the dimension of facts in which it
moves, altitudinal.
In each of the three dimensions, and not only in the longitudinal one
- for which it is well known - but also in the latitudinal and in the alti-
tudinal dimension, two opposite directions of story-time can be identi-
fied: in the longitudinal dimension, it is the progredient and the re-
gredient, in the latitudinal dimension, it is the departing or centrifugal
and the approaching or centripetal time, and in the altitudinal dimen-
sion, the descendent and the ascendant time. The basis of the opposi-
tions of directions in the course of the story-time are asymmetries in the
area of fact-time or fact-sequence-time: their one-dimensional progres-
sion in the longitudinal dimension, their spatial perspective in the latit-
udinal dimension and the - scalar - opposition between abstraction and
concreteness in the altitudinal dimension.

3.2.1 Altitudinal Directions of Story-time

To begin with the altitudinal dimension: of the two directions in which
story-time can move in this dimension, the one which is mostly chosen
is probably the descendent direction, the direction leading from the ab-
stract to the concrete and thus an act of concretion.
This concretion - an act that consists, from the point of view of
time, in a restriction, a partialisation of the story-time - demands, from
the point of view of text grammar, a respective marker, a marker that
can localize definitely and indefinitely, the temporal place of the
product of the restriction and the partialisation in relation to its original
unrestricted abstract temporal space. The restriction of story-time with
definite explicit localisation of the temporal product of restriction can
be observed, e.g. in the sequence of phrases taken from Thomas Mann's
novella Tristan:
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 161

(1) Herr Spinell saB der Gattin Herrn Kloterjahns bei Tische gegentiber.
Zur ersten Mahlzeit, an der die Herrschaften teilnahmen, erschien er ein
wenig zu spat in dem groBen Speisesaal im ErdgeschoB des Seitenfliigels,
sprach mit weicher Stimme einen an alle gerichteten GruB und begab sich
an seinen Plate, worauf Doktor Leander ihn ohne viel Zeremonie den neu
Angekommenen vorstellte. Er verbeugte sich und begann dann, offenbar
ein wenig verlegen, zu essen, indent er Messer und Gabel mit seinen
groiten, weiiten und schon geformten Handen, die aus sehr engen Armeln
hervorsahen, in ziemlich affektierter Weise bewegte. Spater ward er frei
und betrachtete in Gelassenheit abwechselnd Herrn Kloterjahn und seine
Gattin. Auch richtete Herr Kloterjahn im Verlaufe der Mahlzeit einige Fra-
gen und Bemerkungen betreffend die Anlage und das Klima von "Einfried"
an ihn, in die seine Frau in ihrer lieblichen Art zwei oder drei Worte ein-
flieBen lieB, und die Herr Spinell hoflichbeantwortete.

Herr Spinell sat opposite Herr Kloterjahn's wife at table. On the occasion
of the new guests' first appearance in the great dining-room on the ground
floor of the side wing, he arrived a minute or two late, murmured a greeting
to the company and took his seat, whereupon Dr Leander, without much
ceremony, introduced him to the new arrivals. He bowed and began to eat,
evidently a trifle embarrassed, and manoeuvring his knife and fork in a
rather affected manner with his large, white, well formed hands which
emerged from very narrow coat sleeves. Later he seemed less ill at ease
and looked calmly by turns at Herr Kloterjahn and at his wife. Herr Kloter-
jahn too, in the course of the meal, addressed one or two questions and re-
marks to him about the topography and climate of Einfried; his wife also
interspersed a few charming words, and Herr Spinell answered politely.17

In this sequence of phrases, the first sentence indicates the places taken
by Mr. Spinell and Mrs. Kloterjahn in the dimng-hall at mealtime over
a longer period of time. These places are obviously determined by a
table order. The text indicates the places, and at the same time, albeit in
a very abstract way, the time that they spend at these places during the
meals. This is an ambiguity according to which the time factually spent
during the meals is discontinuous, and the time filled with the table or-
der is a continuous time which, at the first meal, already includes the
seconds before the described actual place taken by Mr. Spinell occurs
and, therefore, his belated appearance in the dining hall. The sequence
of sentences that follow on the opening one then indicate only one of
the many meals during which Mr. Spinell and Mrs. Kloterjahn sit op-
posite each other, and they also indicate this meal as the first.
A restriction of story-time with indefinite explicit localisation of the
product of restriction exists everywhere, i.e. where story-time tran-
Th. Mann 1958: 225, resp. Th. Mann 1998: lOOf.
162 Roland Harweg

scends from a section of durative or iterative time to a piece of punctual

time that is localised by an indefinite singular (semelfaktiv) adverb like
once or one day within this section of time. This is the case e.g. in this
sequence of phrases taken from Thomas Mann's Death in Venice:

(2) [...] Aschenbach erwartete taglich Tadzios Auftreten, und zuweilen tat
er, als sei er beschaftigt, wenn es sich vollzog, und lieB den Schonen
scheinbar unbeachtet voriibergehen. Zuweilen aber auch blickte er auf, und
ihre Blicke trafen sich. Sie waren beide tiefernst, wenn das geschah. In der
gebildeten und wiirdevollen Miene des Alteren verriet nichts eine innere
Bewegung; aber in Tadzios Augen war ein Forschen, ein nachdenkliches
Fragen, in seinen Gang kam ein Zogern, er blickte zu Boden, er blickte
lieblich wieder auf, und wenn er voriiber war, so schien ein Etwas in seiner
Haltung auszudriicken, daB nur Erziehung inn hinderte, sich umzuwenden.
Einmal jedoch, eines Abends, begab es sich anders. [...]

[...] Aschenbach waited daily for Tadzio to make his appearance and
sometimes pretended to be busy when he did so, letting the boy pass him
seemingly unnoticed. But sometimes, too, he would look up, and their eyes
would meet. They would both be deeply serious when this happened. In the
cultural and dignified countenance of the older man, nothing betrayed an
inner emotion; but in Tadzio's eyes there was an inquiry, a thoughtful
questioning, his walk became hesitant, he looked at the ground, looked
sweetly up again, and when he had passed, something in his bearing
seemed to suggest that only good breeding restrained him from turning to
But once, one evening, it was different. [...]"

Different from the p o s t u l a t e s of text grammar - which are, however,

formulated in no grammar - there are often, especially in literary narra-
tions, restrictions of story-time that are not explicitly identified at all.
Such a restriction, for example, can be found in the sequence of phrases
- taken again from Thomas Mann's novella Tristan

(3) Das gute Wetter hielt an. [...] Der Gattin Herrn Kloterjahns ging es
leidlich in dieser Zeit; sie war fieberfrei, hustete fast gar nicht und aB ohne
allzu viel Widerwillen. Oftmals saB sie, wie das ihre Vorschrift war, stun-
denlang im sonnigen Frost auf der Terrasse. [...] Dann bemerkte sie zuwei-
len Herrn Spinell, wie er [...] sich im Garten erging. Er ging mit tastenden
Schritten und einer gewissen behutsamen und steif-graziosen Armhaltung
durch den Schnee, griiBte sie ehrerbietig, wenn er zur Terrasse kam, und
stieg die unteren Stufen hinan, um ein kleines Gesprach zu beginnen.
"Heute, auf meinem Morgenspaziergang, habe ich eine schone Frau gese-
Th. Mann 1958: 497, rsp. Th. Mann 1998: 243.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 163

hen ... Gott, sie war schon!" sagte er, legte den Kopf auf die Seite und
spreizte die Hande.

The fine weather continued. [...] At this period Herr Kloterjahn's wife
seemed to be in tolerably good health; she had no fever, scarcely coughed
at all, and had not too bad appetite. Often she would sit out on the terrace
for hours in the frost and the sun [...]. Sometimes she would see Herr
Spinell walking in the garden. [...] He walked through the snow with a
tentative gait and a careful, prim posture of the arms; when he reached the
terrace he would greet her very respectfully and mount the steps to engage
her in a little conversation.
'I saw a beautiful woman on my morning walk today ... Ah, dear me, how
beautiful she was!' he said, tilting his head to one side and spreading out
his hands.19

In this sequence of phrases, the story-time is, in the first phrases, partly
durative and partly iterative: durative in the case of the predicate hielt
an (continued), and in the case of adverbial adjunct in dieser Zeit (at
this period), and iterative in the case of the adverbial adjunct oftmals
(often), dann and zuweilen (sometimes), and the conjunction wenn
(when). The last phrase of the sequence of phrases, the first sentence of
a conversation between Mr Spinell and Mrs Kloterjahn, then indicates,
without being explicit, the beginning of a unique event, and that is a
conversation which is indicated as unique by content and extensiveness.
However, the quoted sequence of phrases is not only an example for
implicit restriction; it is, at the same time, an example for an act that
could be called a thinning {Ausdiinnung). In this sequence of phrases,
thinning - an act that precedes the restriction - consists of the segment-
ation of the primarily narrated sentence into iterative discontinuing ele-
ments. This is done in two steps, with the adverbs 'often' {oftmals) and
'then' {dann) at the first step, and at the second step with the adverb
'sometimes' {zuweilen) and the conjunction 'when' {wenn). These are
expressions that, together with their predicates, perform an iterative
partialising selection from the denotative domains of the expressions
'often' {oftmals) and 'then' {dann) and their predicates.
Also, the ascendant, that is, the variant of altitudinal story-time that
leads from the concrete to the abstract and thus indicates a temporal ex-
tension of the initial temporal section, does not always explicitly indic-
ate this change, in this case an extension instead of a restriction. The
extension is called explicit, e.g. in the case of ascendant story-time
which makes up the end of the second chapter of the eleventh part of
Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks. Beginning with the rattling of the
Th. Mann 1958: 229f., resp. Th. Mann 1998: 105f.
164 Roland Harweg

alarm clock in the early morning, the chapter describes in detail the
course of a weekday in the life of the young Johann Buddenbrook,
called Hanno. The last sentence resumes: 'This was one day in the life
of the little Johann' ('Dies war ein Tag aus dem Leben des kleinen Jo-
hann'). The sentence expands the day, albeit in the most possible vague
way, explicitly into a section of time that might include - in its function
as pars pro toto - if not the whole life of the little Johann, but neverthe-
less certainly some years of the same.
On the other side, in the sentence that follows the last sentence of
sequence (1), the ascendant extension of the story-time is only implicit:

Auch richtete Herr Kloterjahn im Verlaufe der Mahlzeit einige Fragen und Be-
merkungen betreffend die Anlage und das Klima von "Einfried" an inn, in die
seine Frau in ihrer lieblichen Art zwei oder drei Worte einflieiten liefl, und die
Herr Spinell hoflich beantwortete

Herr Kloterjahn too, in the course of the meal, addressed one or two questions
and remarks to him about the topography and climate of Einfried; his wife also
interspersed a few charming words, and Herr Spinell answered politely).

The following sentence Seine Stimme war mild und recht angenehm;
aber er hatte eine etwas behinderte und schlurfende Art zu sprechen,
ah seien seine Zahne der Zunge im Wege (His voice was soft and really
quite agreeable, though he had a slightly impeded, dragging way of
speaking, as if his teeth were getting in the way of his tongue) also
refers to the situation described in the sentence before - but this is not
explicitly said.

3.2.2 Latitudinal Directions of Story-time

Both direction of story-time in the latitudinal dimension, the departing
or centrifugal dimension, or the approaching or centripetal dimension
could be met, e.g. in descriptions of locations; for descriptions of loca-
tions can - hybrid forms aside - begin with the foreground and then
proceed to the background, or begin with the background and then pro-
ceed to the foreground. However, in most cases, descriptions of loca-
tions are not indications of fact-sequences.
But diary records are reproductions of fact-sequences, at least as the
foreground is concerned, as the somewhat abstract terms of foreground
and background may be used to declare the personal-private records as
foreground and the general comments, beyond the personal notes, as
background. When a diarist like Thomas Mann, in the last days of the
Second World War, regularly records the personal-private moments as
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 165

well as the isochromc non-personal moments, and therefore narrates

them from the perspective of the respective evening, then he can either
begin with the foreground and the centrifugal, and proceed to the back-
ground, or he can begin with the background and then, centripetal, pro-
ceed to the foreground. As a rule, Thomas Mann chooses the first, the
centrifugal way. But sometimes, when it comes to events of extraordin-
ary importance and uniqueness, it may be the other way round. For ex-
ample, Thomas Mann's diary entry of May 7*, 1945, begins with some
details on the surrender of Germany, then proceeds to personal reflec-
tions in connection with the surrender and only then notes personal is-
sues that are not connected to the surrender but at the end, in a centrifu-
gal way, he mentions again non-personal general issues. In the same
way, non-personal general issues are put in front of Thomas Mann's di-
ary entries of August 7, 9, 10 and 11, 1945. In the same way as - in the
diary entry of May 7, 1945 - it was the end of the Second World War
that motivated the author to subordinate the personal records to the
non-personal-general and thus chose the 'centripetal' direction of story-
time, it is in the entries of August 1945 marking the end of the Second
World War in the Far Eastern theatre of war: first the dropping of the
atomic bomb over Hiroshima and Nagasaki and then, as its con-
sequence, rumors and negotiations on the surrender of Japan.™
3.2.3 Longitudinal Directions of Story-time
Finally, the clearly dominating one of the two directions of story-time
in the longitudinal dimension, as is generally known, is the progredient,
that is the one which corresponds to the direction of the fact-sequence-
time. The regredient, that is, the one which is opposite to the direction
of fact-sequence-time and therefore the real story-time, which consti-
tutes the longitudinal quality of difference between the two levels of
time is not only considerably more uncommon. It is also unusually re-
stricted, mainly concerning the number of its continuous steps, that is, it
is not interrupted by steps that do not again reach the starting point of
regression. In the majority of cases, it does not step back more than one
single step. Even a continuously stepping back of the story-time by two
steps is comparably uncommon, like the one that can be observed in the
sequence from the beginning of the second chapter of Thomas Mann's
novella Death in Venice in which the story-time, at first, goes back to
the birth of the hero and then further back to his ancestors. If you want
to reach events that lie far back, you normally use one big step instead
of a multitude of smaller steps, and then narrate progrediently from

See Th. Mann 1986: 200 and 238ff.
166 Roland Harweg

there. In fact, it seems that a continuous regression of story-time ap-

pears to us as more unnatural, the smaller and the more numerous its
steps are. But nevertheless, the degree of its unnaturalness does not
seem to reach the degree that is reached by, e.g. a film that runs back-
ward, and this for two reasons: firstly, because each step in it can be
connected to a certain signal of regression, and secondly, because the
individual elements of the story-time are formed progrediently, irre-
spective of the signals of regression that mark it. These are two facts
that, complementing each other and functioning together, make sure
that the respective fact-sequence-time appears as progredient although
it is narrated regrediently, which is very different from films being
played backwards. For example, the signals of regression in the regredi-
ently narrated story-time of the sequence of phrases Karl war wieder
da. Er war tags zuvor aus Amerika zuruckgekehrt (Karl was here
again. He had returned from the United States the day before) the ad-
verbial expression the day before {tags zuvor), and the past perfect -
leave no doubt that the fact-sequence-time flows from the past into the
future - that means: progrediently - in the same way as it would have
occurred with progredient narrated story-time. And, as far as an incid-
ent is referred to by the verb return (zuruckkehren) is concerned, it is
always progredient anyway.21
Probably, how many steps the story-time can step backward con-
tinuously at a certain place, and which degree of naturalness such a
continuous regression has, does not insignificantly depend on the kind
of inner structure of the respective fact-sequence-time in a text. Without
taking into account the point of view of boredom: the most extensive
regression concerning the number of steps (and also the most natural)
would be a case of straight rows of facts, e.g. straight lines of genealo-
gies. A very extensive regrediently narrated genealogy - albeit without
signals of regression - is the genealogy of Jesus as narrated by the
Evangelist Luke.
But if sequences of facts that are to be narrated do not consist of
such rows of similar facts, then one can, for the time being, only say
about their capacity of steps and the naturalness of the continuously re-
gredient story-time that it is significantly lower than in the former.
Something more precise, especially something typologically more pre-
cise, can probably only be said when the phenomenon of the regredi-
ently narrated story-time has been submitted to comprehensive and de-
tailed research. As a small foretaste to such studies, I will try to refor-
On the difference between aspects and kinds of actions see R. Harweg 1976: 5.
Aspects are phenomena that transcendend facts, kinds of actions are imminent to
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 167

mulate a small text that is progrediently narrated - for further studies

will have to contain such experiments. As a text section, I will choose
the beginning of Death in Venice* and exactly this section, because it
is especially suited for the experiment in terms of its narrative structure.
Although progrediently narrated, it begins with a retrospective and a
retrospective that starts - against the rule, by the way - without any
point of departure. The point of departure, the denotation of the predic-
ate erwartete [...] am Nordlichen Friedhof die Tram (waited at the
Northern Cemetery for the tram), is only revealed later, to be precise: at
the end of the progedient narration of the retrospective, i.e. where the
retrospective transforms into the parallel perspective. And this is, at the
same time, the point from where we will attempt to reformulate the ret-
rospective in a regredient way which is, in the original, narrated pro-
grediently. The result could be the following sequence of phrases:

(4) Am Nordlichen Friedhof in Miinchen erwartete der Schriftsteller Gu-

stav Aschenbach oder von Aschenbach, wie seit seinem funfzigsten Ge-
burtstag amtlich sein Name lautete, an einem Friihlingsabend des Jahres
19.., das unserem Kontinent monatelang eine so gefahrdrohende Miene
zeigte, die Tram. Er befand sich auf dem Riickweg von einem weiteren
Spaziergang durch den Englischen Garten zu seiner Wohnung in der Prinz-
regentenstralte. Er hatte das letzte Stuck des Weges bei sinkender Sonne
auiterhalb des Parks iiber die offene Flur genommen. Vorher hatte er beim
Aumeister eine kleine Weile den volkstiimlich belebten Wirtsgarten iiber-
blickt, an dessen Rand einige Droschken und Equipagen hielten. Zum Au-
meister hatten inn stillere und stillere Wege gefuhrt. In der Nahe der Stadt
war der Englische Garten zunachst voller Wagen und Spazierganger gewe-
Aufgebrochen zu dem Spaziergang war Aschenbach bald nach dem Tee,
und der Grand fur den Aufbrach war gewesen, daB der Dichter am friihen
Nachmittag den entlastenden Schlummer nicht gefunden hatte, der ihm, bei
zunehmender Abnutzbarkeit seiner Krafte einmals untertags so notig war.
Er hatte ihn deshalb nicht gefunden, weil er, iiberreizt, dem Fortschwingen
des produzierenden Triebwerks in seinem Inneren nicht Einhalt zu tun ver-
mocht hatte, das die schwierige und gefahrliche, eben jetzt eine hochste
Behutsamkeit, Umsicht, Eindringlichkeit und Genauigkeit des Willens er-
fordernde Kraft der Vormittagsstunden in Gang gesetzt hatte.

At the Northern Cemetery in Munich, the writer Gustav Aschenbach or von

Aschenbach, as he had been known officially since his fiftieth birthday,
waited for the tram on a spring afternoon of the year 19.., which showed
such a dangerously threatening face to our continent as it had not done for
months. He was on the way back from a longer walk through the Eng-
See Th. Mann 1958: 444.
168 Roland Harweg

lischer Garten to his dwelling in the Prinzregentenstralte. The last distance

of his way he had taken through the open field, with the sinking sun outside
the park. Before, he had, at Aumeister's, for a little while, looked over the
popular and lively beer garden, at whose edge some Droschken and
Equipagen were stopping. Increasingly quiet paths had let him to
Aumeister's. Close to the city, the Englischer Garten had been, at first, full
of vehicles and people out for a stroll.
Soon after tea, Aschenbach had left for the walk, and the reason for the
walk had been the fact that the poet had, in the early afternoon, not found
the relaxing slumber that was so important to him once a day, with an in-
creasingly decrease of his strengths. He had not found it, because he had
not been able to stop the swinging of a producing mechanism inside him
that had been ignited by the difficult and dangerous work of the morning
hours that even now demanded highest caution, prudence, forcefulness and
elaborateness of the will [our translation].

I will not analyse the sequence of phrases here; it shows a strand of re-
gredient story-time that continuously steps eight steps back into the an-
teriority without being interrupted by any progredient steps. But per-
haps it can be sensed that the precise analysis of such regredient re-
arrangements of progrediently narrating texts and the comparison of
these rearrangements with their progrediently narrating originals gives
us the opportunity to gain deeper insights in the possibilities and limits
of regredient narration.

4. Comparison and Combination of the Differences

between Fact-sequence-time and Story-time

In the longitudinal dimension and with regard to time direction, the dif-
ference between fact-sequence-time and story-time is restricted to the
case of regredient story-time because within the longitudinal dimen-
sion, fact-sequence-time always has a direction. In the latitudinal and
the altitudinal dimension, we can observe a difference between the re-
spective fact-sequence-time and each of the two opposing directions of
story-time, as within these, fact-sequence-time is without own direc-
tion. However, if on the level of story-time these dimensions appear in
combination - and that is not infrequent - then there always exists, lo-
gically speaking, a specific difference of direction between fact-
sequence-time and story-time. And in addition, both levels of time al-
ways exhibit, as we remember, differences in quality. For a story-time
is, at least compared to objective time - or to the variety of subjective
fact-sequence-times that comes close to objectivity - always the
product of a selection.
Story-time and Fact-sequence-time 169

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