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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Focalisation is a term coined by the French narrative theorist Gerard Genette. It refers to the perspective through which a narrative is presented.


Focalisation in literature is similar to point-of-view (POV) in film-making. It occurs in a narrative where all information presented reflects the subjective perception of a certain character is said to be internally focalised. An omniscient narrator corresponds to zero focalisation. External focalisation is the camera eye.

A novel in which no simple rules restrict the transition between different focalisations could be said to be unfocalised, but specific relationships between basic types of focalisation constitute more complex focalisation strategies; for example, a novel could provide external focalisation alternating with internal focalisations through three different characters, where the second character is never focalised except after the first, and three other characters are never focalised at all.


The specific domain of literary theory which deals with focalisation is narratology, which concerns not only distinctions between subjective and objective focalisations but various gradations between them, such as free indirect discourse, style indirect libre, or quasi-direct discourse. Narratologists tend to have a difficult time agreeing on the exact definitions of categories in their field; hence its dynamic nature.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Focalisation" 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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