A. The lyric genre
Lyric works present reality from the observer’s point of view, as a personal and intimate vision of a human being. Lyric texts are generally written at first person – although this is not always the case – and they usually come in verses. Some lyric texts date back to ancient times. However, modern lyric also comes in prose, like in Platero and I, by Juan Ramón Jiménez, or in Ocnus, by Luis Cernuda.
B. The epic or narrative genre
An epic text present a fictitious realm or world as if it was an objective reality, exterior to the author, although in fact it is the creation of the writer’s mind just as much as a lyric work is.
In epic or narrative works, the author describes people, situations and places, recounts actions and events that occur in different places at different times, puts words in the mouth of his characters and sometimes even describes the inner world inside his characters’ or even his own mind: thoughts, feelings, moods, intentions…
An important aspect of the narrative technique is the point of view that the author chooses for the narrator.
- The omniscient narrator (the one that knows everything) tells the story using the third person, as if he could see and know everything about the characters, even their deepest and most hidden thoughts.
- The first-person narrator is characteristic for autobiographical works, but this does not mean that the text will be about the author himself. The “I” of the author is different from the “I” of the narrator.
- Epistolary texts, in which the narrators are characters themselves, and the text consists of a series of letters shared between two or more characters.
In order to differentiate between the two names given to this literary genre, we will consider epic as the term that can apply to the literature of Antiquity, The Middle Age and Renaissance, while narrative refers to works in prose, in general.