Trese, Kelly. “Beyond the Frame Tale”. PhD, Boston College, 2018. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:108258.
Historically, the narrative frame tale boasts a long and varied trajectory that originated in ancient India and includes texts such as the Panchatantra and the Arabian Nights. Eventually, many Eastern fables and the frame-tale structure that accompanied them entered the Western literary tradition through the cultural bridge that was medieval Spain. Considering the frame tale’s popularity in medieval texts, especially in fourteenth century Italian novella collections, it is curious to observe a decline in its use during the early-modern period in Europe. This study examines how the traditional framed novella collection dissolves into more fluid narrative forms. Novel, more structurally subtle types of framing devices, including the character-as-frame and the place-as-frame, maintain several consistent narratological functions with their historical counterparts. The frame tale’s form may have changed, but its function remains. The first chapter of this dissertation focuses on Boccaccio’s Decameron as the model for how a traditional frame tale functions. Four narratological framing functions – the aesthetic, the perspectivist, the metaleptic frame break, and the self-reflexive – work in concert to organize the text and engage readers in actively interpreting it. The remaining three chapters examine three exemplary moments in literary history when authors redesign and deploy the narrative frame: Lazarillo de Tormes, Part I of Don Quijote, and Cien años de soledad. These texts each create a paradigm shift by utilizing a well-known, well-established formal device in innovative ways. This dissertation argues that by understanding these works in a new light as framed texts, and by exposing the consistent functions at work within them, readers can better understand both the world of the text and the world outside it.