This is not about the film. Apart from this one mention, the name and work of Quentin Tarantino won’t figure in this text at all. If truth be told, I just don’t feel comfortable about using words like “bastard” – or, come to that, even “basterds” – outside my head, let alone in writing. Notice the abundant use of quotation marks? Yes, I am a bit old-fashioned in that respect. But, hey, it’s okay if it’s a quote, isn’t it? No need to blush!

No, this text is about narrators and the fact that you just can’t  trust some of them. And if you’re feeling tricked into reading this text by a rather crude allusion to a major motion picture – well, take it as a first point in favour of my argument.

We learn at school that it is important to distinguish between the author of a novel or a poem or similar and the narrator. There are, for example, first-person narrators, third-person narrators and omniscient narrators, and they all shouldn’t be confused with the person who gives them a voice. Sometimes the narrator is a human being, sometimes an animal, sometimes the narrator is the material produced by the camera. In fact, with movies it’s a bit more complicated because you not only have the writer of the script but also the director, the leading actor(s) or rather the characters (again something which shouldn’t be confused), the cameraman – who of these people is the narrator?

However, I think one of the most interesting species of narrators are the unreliable ones, the pretenders and fakers, the liars and self-deceivers. Mostly, if they are well-crafted, it’s great fun to find them out.

I’ve given this group of voices some amateurish thoughts and came up with a number of different categories of unreliable authors which I would like to put up for discussion.

Read on: Unreliable Narrators – Part One: Liars in Retrospect

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