Stream of consciousness  

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In literary criticism, stream of consciousness is a narrative mode or method that attempts "to depict the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind" of a narrator. The term was coined by Daniel Oliver in 1840 in First Lines of Physiology: Designed for the Use of Students of Medicine, when he wrote,

If we separate from this mingled and moving stream of consciousness, our sensations and volitions, which are constantly giving it a new direction, and suffer it to pursue its own spontaneous course, it will appear, upon examination, that this, instead of being wholly fortuitous and uncertain, is determined by certain fixed laws of thought, which are collectively termed the association of ideas.

Better known, perhaps, is the 1855 usage by Alexander Bain in the first edition of The Senses and the Intellect, when he wrote, "The concurrence of Sensations in one common stream of consciousness–on the same cerebral highway–enables those of different senses to be associated as readily as the sensations of the same sense". But it is commonly credited to William James who used it in 1890 in his The Principles of Psychology. In 1918, the novelist May Sinclair (1863–1946) first applied the term stream of consciousness, in a literary context, when discussing Dorothy Richardson's novels. Pointed Roofs (1915), the first work in Richardson's series of 13 semi-autobiographical novels titled Pilgrimage, is the first complete stream-of-consciousness novel published in English. However, in 1934, Richardson comments that "Proust, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf & D.R. ... were all using 'the new method', though very differently, simultaneously". There were, however, many earlier precursors and the technique is still used by contemporary writers.


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." he wrote in the essay "Le Monologue intérieur" (1931)

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.

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. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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