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date: 21 October 2019

actant 

Source:
A Dictionary of Critical Theory
Author(s):

Ian Buchanan

A logical category in the narrative grammar devised by the Paris-based, Lithuanian linguist Algirdas Julien *Greimas. The actant is in Greimas’s language an isotope of the action. This means narrative analysis occurs at a level below that of character and indeed of character type. Thus to take one very restricted example, if detective fiction can be understood as a battle between doing good and doing evil then good and evil actants are required by the narrative structure. The obvious implication of this insight is that the detective can be a man, woman, child, alien, good or bad, all without altering the formal structure of the narrative. Moreover, multiple characters may fulfil the various actants each narrative type requires. For Greimas, the actual detective is an ... ...

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