Meetup 36 – Unreliable Narrator

On May 26, 2012, Rashmi hosted a session on a topic that most of us have a natural fascination for – the unreliable narrator. Think of Memento, The Usual Suspects, How I Met Your Mother, To Kill a Mockingbird, Notes on a Scandal; none of these would have stuck in your memory if not for their brilliant use of the unreliable narrator. Rashmi chose as a case study the story called ‘The Black Cat’ by Edgar Allan Poe. Its full text is available online. Do read it.

The exercises for the warm-up writing part were also great, and the writing prompts threw out a wide variety of pieces from Ashwatthama’s rebirth in a monkey’s body to the last man on Earth pondering the future at the South Pole. There was some confusion on whether a first-person narrator was the same as an unreliable narrator, with some arguing that every first-person narrative, because it is biased by the narrator’s views, is unreliable. While there is merit to that argument, it could also be argued that every narrator, whether first or third person, is unreliable to some degree. What we term ‘unreliable’ is a narrator who manages to gain our trust and then break it so that we draw back in shock and go: “Whoa!”

You also get some of Rashmi’s draft slides for free, slides which people who attended the original session have never seen. Isn’t this just your lucky day?

Download the material here


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