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AstroChuck's avatar

Are there any novels that are written in second-person narrative?

Asked by AstroChuck (37363points) February 10th, 2010 from iPhone

I can only think of first and third-person novels. Can the collective give me an example of any second-person narrative in literature (and no, I don’t consider greeting cards literature) other than poetry? Just curious. Nothing more than that.

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23 Answers

Vincentt's avatar

Just recently I read “De Elementen”, or “The Elements”, the English title. A very good book by Harry Mulisch. Highly recommended.

grumpyfish's avatar

Aren’t choose your own adventure books 2nd person?

Qingu's avatar

Choose-your-own-adventure novels?

Vincentt's avatar

I don’t think there are many (if any) choose-your-own-adventure novels that would be considered literature…

grumpyfish's avatar

@Vincentt They are a very particular form of children’s literature, but they are literature.

Vincentt's avatar

Hmm, interesting, it seems that the English word literature aligns more with the Dutch word lectuur, whereas the Dutch literatuur is a “high, elitist” (to quote Wikipedia NL, meaning something like “more classy, renowned”) selection of literature. That explains my confusion :)

Seek's avatar

Choose Your Own Adventure! I loved those books!

Anyone remember the one where you visit an alien planet and turn into a crab? That one was killer.

janbb's avatar

Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson is one.

Jeruba's avatar

I have read at least one and heard of a couple of others. I can’t recall any particulars at the moment, but I do recall finding that one exceedingly irritating.

Come to think of it, there may have been another, a murder mystery, even harder to pull off than a first-person murder mystery in which the narrator is the culprit (I recall one of those too). I remember that it seemed well done but pointless, like creating a mechanical dog to do everything a real dog can do except be organic and natural. What’s the goal other than to show off?

Ria777's avatar

@AstroChuck: told in the second person, not “second person narrative”. anyway, yes, a novel by Keith Roberts called Molly Zero. that book (and Keith Roberts’ writing generally) influenced my writing a lot.

AstroChuck's avatar

@Jeruba- I could imagine a novel such as that would be annoying to read.

@Ria777- Semantics. There’s no difference between a second-person narrative and something being told in the second person.

Ria777's avatar

okay, my mistake.

filmfann's avatar

Here is the first chapter of the Calvino book.
Yes, it is annoying.

adinaa's avatar

Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

Here is a wikipedia list of notable second person narratives in literature. 2nd person POV may be rare, but this list is quite substantial.

HungryGuy's avatar

I rather doubt it.

The first person is like this: I went to market, where I bought a loaf of bread with my very last pound.

The second person is like this: You went to market, where you bought a loaf of bread with your very last pound.

The third person is like this: He went to market, where he bought a loaf of bread with his very last pound.

As you can see, telling a story in the second person is rather nonsensical telling the reader that he is the one who is living the story. Most prose is in the third person because it is the most versatile, while some is in the first person.

Berserker's avatar

All those “your own adventure” books I used to read in elementary school lol.

Granted that’s far from being actual literature, but that’s all I can think of.

cbloom8's avatar

I can’t remember the title, but I read one several years ago that I think was in second person. It was a teenage level book, and was told from the point of view of the friend of a kid who was being accused and imprisoned for something…I don’t quite remember what.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@cbloom8: Are you referring to Little Brother by Cory Doctorow? If so, I believe that book is written in first-person. Forgive me if I am wrong.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins is written entirely in the second person, present tense. It’s a little disconcerting, but so are most Tom Robbins novels. Highly recommended (as with all other Tom Robbins books).

Vincentt's avatar

@Jeruba Haha, yes, The Elements was very likely to show off – Harry Mulisch is quite known for being a show-off. Also, he is known for being able to pull that off. And that’s what he did in The Elements as well.

stardust's avatar

I just read a short story written in second-person narrative. I found the story good, but I wouldn’t have carried on if it had been any longer. I find it rather annoying. What shof-off’s? ;)

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