Stream of consciousness  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e



In literary criticism, stream of consciousness, also called interior monologue is a narrative mode that seeks to portray an individual's point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character's thought processes, either in a loose interior monologue, or in connection to his or her actions.

Stream-of-consciousness writing is usually regarded as a special form of interior monologue and is characterized by associative leaps in syntax and punctuation that can make the prose difficult to follow. Stream of consciousness and interior monologue are distinguished from dramatic monologue, where the speaker is addressing an audience or a third person, and is used chiefly in poetry or drama. In stream of consciousness, the speaker's thought processes are more often depicted as overheard in the mind (or addressed to oneself); it is primarily a fictional device.

The term was coined by William James in 1890 in his The Principles of Psychology, and in 1918 May Sinclair first applied the term stream of consciousness, in a literary context, when discussing Dorothy Richardson's novels.



Les Lauriers sont coupés (1887) by Édouard Dujardin can be perceived as a precursor of the 'stream of consciousness' writing-style, because of his renunciation of chronology in favor of free association: « Il a pour objet d'évoquer le flux ininterrompu des pensées qui traversent l'âme du personnage au fur et à mesure qu'elles naissent sans en expliquer l'enchaînement logique. »

Thereby anticipating the stream of consciousness narratives of Joyce and of Virginia Woolf.

Notable works

Several notable works employing stream of consciousness are:

The technique has been parodied, for example, by David Lodge in the final chapter of The British Museum Is Falling Down.


  • Cohn, Dorrit. Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction, 1978.
  • Friedman, Melvin. Stream of Consciousness: A Study in Literary Method, 1955.
  • Humphrey, Robert. Stream of Consciousness in the Modern Novel, 1954.
  • Sachs, Oliver. "In the River of Consciousness." New York Review of Books, 15 Jan 2004.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stream of consciousness" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools