Franz Karl Stanzel (born 4 August 1923) is an Austrian literary theorist, specialised in English literature.
Born in Molln, Austria, Stanzel finished his degree with Herbert Koziol in Graz. After his habilitation in 1955 he was professor in Göttingen. In 1959 he was offered a position as professor (Ordinariat) in Erlangen. In 1962 he succeeded Koziol in Graz. Today he is a professor emeritus of English literature at the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz.
Since the 1950s Stanzel worked on an analytical topology for the description of the narrative mode, also often called "narrative situation" or "point of view" of narrative texts. Despite lots of criticism, his typological circle of three narrative situations is still taught in introductions to German literary studies at German universities (e. g. the introductions of the famous literary scholar Ansgar Nünning). Since the late 90s, there is a stronger competition by the narrative model of the French narratologist Gérard Genette in Germany.
Stanzel's typological circle featuring "three typical narrative situations", which describes various possibilities of structuring the mediacity of narrative, is based on three elements. These are "mode", "person" and "perspective", which can be divided further into the oppositions "narrator/reflector", "first person/third person" and "internal perspective/external perspective". Thus, Stanzel distinguishes three narrative situations: The "authorial narrative situation" is characterised by the dominance of the external perspective. In the "First-person narrative situation", the events are related by a "narrating I" who takes part in the action in the fictional world as a character or as the "experiencing I". "The figural narrative situation" is marked by the dominance of the reflector mode, restricting to a factual representation or using internal focalisation to create the impression of immediacy.
- Stanzel, Franz K. (1953). Article on Faulkners short story ‘The Bear‘. In: Die Neueren Sprachen. Zeitschrift für Forschung und Unterricht auf dem Fachgebiet der modernen Fremdsprachen. Jg. 1953, pag. 115. Frankfurt am Main.
- Stanzel, F.K. (1954). ‘Tom Jones’ und ‘Tristram Shandy’, Ein Vergleich als Vorstudie zu einer Typologie des Romans. Article in English Miscellany 5 of Mario Praz.
- Stanzel, F.K. (1971, 1955). Narrative Situations in the Novel. Translated by James P. Pusack. Indiana University Press. Original title: Die typischen Erzählsituationen im Roman.
- Stanzel, F.K. (1976. 8. Auflage, 1964). Typische Formen des Romans. Vandenhoeck &Ruprecht, Göttingen.
- Stanzel, F.K. (1986, first paperback edition, 1979). A theory of narrative. Translated by Charlotte Goedsche. University of Cambridge. Original title: Theorie des Erzählens.
- Stanzel, F.K. (2002). Unterwegs. Erzähltheorie für Leser. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen.
- Stanzel, F.K. (2011). Welt als Text. Grundbegriffe der Interpretation. Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, Würzburg.
- Stanzel, F.K. (2015). Die Typischen Erzählsituationen 1955 – 2015. Erfolgsgeschichte einer Triade. Königshausen & Neumann GmbH, Würzburg.