The phrase “unreliable narrator” was coined by Wayne Booth, University of Chicago English professor, in his 1961 book The Rhetoric of Fiction. James Phelan of Ohio State University, in a 2007 journal article, parsed two types of unreliable narration: “Estranging Unreliability, Bonding Unreliability, and the Ethics of ‘Lolita.'”
I fervently hope that the instant TV analysts of tonight’s State of the Union Address focus not on the laughable question, “did he become presidential yet?” but rather on the far more fascinating issue, “what kind of unreliable narration are we dealing with tonight?” For example, can the president do “estranging unreliability” and “bonding unreliability” at the same time? Will he thus succeed in disorienting enough people, including media influencers and elites, to get away with the obstructions that he himself foretold would amount to an openly visible crime scene (sub 1600 Penn Ave for Fifth Avenue). I assume (based on experience at this point, not prejudgment; yes, I gave him a chance, time’s up) malicious unreliability from this president, and am happy that many if not most Americans are quite aware of the maliciousness and the unreliability and are already tired enough of it to overcome GOP gerrymandering this November and place an Article One check on presidential abuse of power. But it is a dangerous harrowing time for America’s constitutional democratic republic.
James Phelan article: