What is it about?

In this chapter, various manifestations of layering in Munro's first seven collections of short stories are examined, lavishly illustrated by quotations from her work. The layering takes on spatial as well as temporal dimensions.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

The layering motif taps into one of Munro's central themes, namely the difference between surfaces and what is below these surfaces -- but may have brought them about. Only some characters are privileged (or: cursed) with the knowledge of how the surface or latest appearance of something or somebody hides other, deeper layers of things, buildings, or personalities. To these knowledgeable characters, realities cannot be conflated with their outer, or latest, appearance, but constitute the sum total of both their present and earlier manifestations. The layering theme thereby is one way in which Munro's interest in the tension between seemingly irreconcilable phenomena comes to the fore.


This is one of my earliest publications, from a period that I was still working on literary fiction -- in this case by my all-time favourite author, who many years later was to be awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Reading and rereading her work has enormously influenced my love of fiction -- and my development as a narratologist.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Alice Munro’s Layered Structures, January 1993, Brill, DOI: 10.1163/9789004484788_024.
You can read the full text:



The following have contributed to this page