It took me a little by surprise as I adore this book and have read it on many occasions and tend to employ a vaguely critical eye so I can learn and write articles such as this. I mean, it's clear that the story zooms in an out on various people and places, as if the reader were watching through a camera, but when you look at it properly it's mind-blowing, and, to be honest, doesn't tally with a lot of writing advice that suggests choosing one viewpoint and sticking to it throughout. I guess it goes to show that if you have enough skill, you can do anything you want... :)
"Leutnant Weber dismantled and oiled his gun. He felt a little apprehensive without the panzers that had accompanied his odyssey across Europe. It was a relief that so many munitions were pouring into Lixouri, but it was worrying that so far there were not many reinforcements. It was well known that the colonel had delivered a final ultimatum to General Gandin, and had asked him some embarrassing questions about his loyalties and his intentions. There were eight hours left. He thought about Corelli and wondered what he was doing, and then he removed the silver crucifix that hung about his neck and just looked at it. General Gandin had refused complete surrender, demanded freedom of movement for his troops, and asked for written guarantees of the safety of his men. Weber smiled and shook his head. Someone was going to have to teach them a lesson."
The third type of narrator that de Bernieres employs, increasingly towards the end of the book, is the third person omniscient narrator device. This narrator knows everything about everything and can sweep from a total discussion of the war and detailed references to Greek mythology and Greek history to a full knowledge of what is happening in every corner to every person when a particular event occurs. He often uses this narrator as a type of third person intimate, but it sweeps into so many places and so many heads that it is omniscient in breadth and effect. Just over half the book is narrated in this way.
"To the south, in the island of Zante, the capital town blazed beneath a rain of incandescent cinders that fell upon the flesh so tormentingly that both men and dogs went mad. A rescue worker, one who had been a witness to Nagasaki, said afterwards that this was worse. All over the Ionian island people found themselves with nothing but whatever idiotic items they had tried to save as they disgorged from their houses: a chamber pot, a letter, a cushion, a pot of basil, or a ring. On Cephallonia the rock at Kounopetra, in Paliki, which had vibrated for centuries and which even British warships had failed to disturb, fell still and found repose amid the demolition of the land. It became just another seaside rock as the island transmogrified itself, dissolving into desolation and rehearsing Armageddon."
De Bernieres uses the omniscient narrator beautifully and prolifically towards the end of the book, when so much summary is fully needed to describe and cover all the horror and action taking place. We feel so strongly for the characters as the extended first person monologues towards the beginning allowed us to get to know them so well, thus demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of both narration styles. Captain Corelli's Mandolin really is a masterpiece of multi-voiced ventriloquism, the detail and humanity of his research and a story within which almost everyone seems to act under orders or a misapprehension, or out of folly or love.
For fullness, of the remaining two chapters, one is an epistolary chapter, containing the letters of Pelagia and Mandras on the first occasion that he is away, and the second is the complete text of a pamphlet entitled with 'the Fascist Slogan, 'Believe, Fight, and Obey,' that Dr. Iannis, Carlo and Kokolios distribute about the island in the 35th chapter of the book.
To me, the conclusion to draw from the many voices of Captain Corelli are that you must know your narrators and be aware of the strengthes and weaknesses of each one so you may tell your story at its best. You also must be mindful of reaching the skill level of Louis de Bernieres, as at that point, you have licence to throw out the rule book and do whatever the hell you want!