stream of consciousness


stream of consciousness

Narrative technique in nondramatic fiction intended to render the flow of myriad impressions—visual, auditory, tactile, associative, and subliminal—that impinge on an individual consciousness. To represent the mind at work, a writer may incorporate snatches of thought and grammatical constructions that do not seem coherent because they are based on the free association of ideas and images. The term was first used by William James in The Principles of Psychology (1890). In the 20th century, writers attempting to capture the total flow of their characters' consciousness commonly used the techniques of interior monologue, which represents a sequence of thought and feeling. Novels in which stream of consciousness plays an important role include James Joyce's Ulysses (1922), William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929), and Virginia Woolf's The Waves (1931).

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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