Second-person narrative  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Second-person narration is a narrative technique in which the protagonist or another main character is referred to by employment of second-person personal pronouns and other kinds of addressing forms, for example the English second-person pronoun "you".

You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy. You are at a nightclub talking to a girl with a shaved head. The club is either Heartbreak or the Lizard lounge. All might come clear if you could just slip into the bathroom and do a little more Bolivian Marching Powder. —Opening lines of Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City (1984)

Traditionally, the employment of the second-person form in literary fiction has not been as prevalent as the corresponding first-person and third-person forms, yet second-person narration is, in many languages, a very common technique of several popular and non- or quasi-fictional written genres such as guide books, self-help books, Do It Yourself-manuals, interactive fiction, role-playing games, Choose Your Own Adventure series of novels, pop song lyrics, advertisements, etc.

Although not the most common narrative technique in literary fiction, second-person narration has, however, constituted a favoured form of various literary works within, notably, the modern and post-modern tradition. In addition to a not insignificant number of consistent (or nearly consistent) second-person novels and short-stories by, for example, Michel Butor, Marguerite Duras, Carlos Fuentes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Georges Perec, Jay McInerney, etc., the technique of narrative second-person address has been widely employed in shorter or longer intermittent chapters or passages of narratives by William Faulkner, Günter Grass, Italo Calvino, Nuruddin Farah, Jan Kjærstad and many others (cf. the list of second-person narratives below).

List of second-person narratives

Narratives written consistently in the second person or narratives including chapters or larger and/or intermittent passages in the second person:

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Second-person narrative" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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