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Stream of Consciousness

Principles of Psychology, Les Lauriers sont coupés, Ulysses, Pilgrimage, The Waves, The Sound and the Fury

the literary technique whereby an author attempts to render the internal verbal, imaginative, and perceptual activities of a character. William James coined the term in Principles of Psychology (1890) to designate the continual succession of cognitive events that take place in the mind. Increasing use of lengthy passages of introspection in the novels of Henry James, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and others preceded the emergence of the stream of consciousness method. Early examples of the mode, which is also referred to as ‘interior monologue’, are found in Les Lauriers sont coupés (1888) by Edouard Dujardin (18611949); this novel is believed to have suggested possibilities to James Joyce, whose Ulysses (1922) remains the most memorable demonstration of stream of consciousness writing. The book's narrative is developed primarily through the depictions of the internal workings of the minds of its three main characters; Molly Bloom's forty-page monologue forming the conclusion bears only one punctuation mark, indicating the distortions of conventional syntax and usage which are frequently a feature of the technique. Dorothy Richardson's monumental Pilgrimage (191567) contains striking early uses of stream of consciousness procedures, which are also central to Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931) and William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1931). The technique has latterly become a comparatively common-place device in prose fiction and has its equivalents in poetry, notable examples being found in W. H. Auden's The Age of Anxiety (1948) and the title poem of Ted Hughes's Wodwo (1967).

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: St Juliot Cornwall to Rabindranath Tagore Biography