Although in Narrative Discourse Gérard Genette strictly associates focalization with a focal character and with the question "who sees?," most narratologists, including Genette, now believe that the original visual connotations of focalization were too narrow and too metaphoric and that focalization is not necessarily tied to a focal character. This basic consensus aside, focalization theory at present is caught in a dilemma of conflicting approaches. Genette, by his own admission, does little more than adjust, rename, and typologize traditional insights about "point of view;" Mieke Bal's theory of perceptible/imperceptible objects and embedded focalizations is inordinately complicated; and Seymour Chatman's twin concepts of slant and filter aim at supplanting focalization altogether. The current impasse is a consequence of a number of flawed premises; a revised theory of focalization would reinstall both visual field and Jamesian windows as core concepts.
See also Manfred Jahn's home page (external).
More Aspects of Focalization: Refinements and Applications
In GRAAT 21 (1999): 85-110
Full text (external)
Maintained by Francis F. Steen, Communication Studies, University of California Los Angeles