Narrative Polyphony of Sting’s Album “Ten Summoner’s Tales” (1993)
Keywords:Sting’s works, song, music, verse, narration, speaker, addressee
The article analyses the specifications of narrative structures and types of narrators in the song lyrics from the album “Ten Summoner’s Tales” (1993), based on “Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer and traditionally claimed the Magnum Opus of Sting. Apparently, Chaucerian style in all the twelve verses composing the album emerges not merely as the interpretation of original “Canterbury Tales” plots or impartment of the new features to the initial characters, but predominantly as exploitation of the lyrical and ironic intonations within an image of a narrator for a certain poem. Since a song is the synthetic generic structure marked with profound internal experience, Sting’s album reveals the diverse types of a speaker in every verse. Primarily, it is the ‘I-narrator’ embodied in poetic masks of a historian, a warrior, a saint, a gambler or a philosopher; some texts like “Fields of Gold” or “Shape of My Heart” represent the alternation of speaker types, which method of storytelling creates the special generic and narrative polyphony for a song. Subsequently, the narrative structure would determine the genre of a separate work: a detective story, a pastoral, a historical reflection, a cumulative tale, a confession, and somehow a Dante-styled epic poem. Overall, the various types of narrators in Sting’s lyrics composing “Ten Summoner’s Tales” (determined as ‘reflexive,’ ‘actor,’ ‘pointillist’ and ‘medium’ with all possible combinations) bring the elements of the author’s own vital and creative experience into the song where they gain the generalized meanings as symbols of human life, being surrounded with verbal images and amplified with musical accompaniment.
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