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By Jacques Martin

Capturés par des marchands d'esclaves phéniciens, Alix et Enak sont vendus comme tels sur le port du Pirée. Ils sont achetés par Numa Sadulus, un Romain agent mystery de l'empereur qui veut se servir :d'eux pour tenter de percer le mystère qui entoure une grande fabrique de vases, le Protonéion, où se maniganceraient des évènements inquiétants à l'encontre de l'empire...

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Yet both these approaches render the signals of interpersonal conflict in the text (discussed on pp. 34–7 and 45–7) more serious, For the satirical view suggests that beyond the figure of the narratee, the audience of the text may itself be a target. And the historical view leads, in its extreme form, to a perception of the sparring between narrator and narratee and the ‘copying’ of Tristram Shandy as unfortunate disturbances of the aims of the text (see Fredman 1955:3). If, on the other hand, the text is read within a context of misrule, the interpersonal interactions of the text become an acceptable part of this pattern, but the ideational stability is threatened.

The roles played by master and servant are variable, both in dialogue and narration, and do not necessarily correspond to their social positions. In this world level, a fluid power relationship exists across narrative and dialogic exchange without an absolute break between the two. These two levels of narrative reflect the conditions of oral story-telling described by Polanyi (1982). Her account illustrates how narrative and dialogue, story and conversation are interwoven in a fully pragmatized context of situation.

He contends that it is possible for the institutionally weaker author to gain power over his powerful audience through the text. The fictional text, for Butor, allows a space for manoeuvre on the part of the writer which would not be permissible outside the text: ‘En lui constamment un valet se rebelle contre le déterminisme du maître’ (1968:135). Jacques le fataliste is the ruse of the author, who deflects the power of his audience through his apparent submission to it: ‘C’est en prenant conscience de leur domination, de chaque fil qu’ils tirent, qu’il pourra se libérer de leur fatalité’ (1968:148).

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