May 13th, 2015


Earliest First-Person Fiction?

Meg Rosoff has been praising first-person narratives over on Facebook, but this got me to wondering: what is the earliest (extant) first person fiction?

By fiction, I mean presented-and-expected-to-be-received-as-such. I've no doubt that many of the Ozymandian boasts to be found on papyri, cylinders, tablets, etc. from the ancient Middle and Near East include a few stretchers, but they weren't presented as fiction.

Also, it must be first-person through and through. A first-person narrative embedded in a larger third-person narrative doesn't count, which rules out the epic of Gilgamesh, if I remember right.

I also rule out lyric poetry that presents generic situations (e.g. the lover is rejected and is feeling sad) that may or may not have actually occurred. We're talking stories here, in prose or verse.

I'm sure there will be many a borderline case, of course.

I haven't checked, but I think The Golden Ass is first person. Any advance on that?