Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE ( (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2013. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 03 August 2020


A Dictionary of Critical Theory

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 ... ...

Access to the complete content on Oxford Reference requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.