A. It's a phrase coined by the American philosopher and psychologist W. James in his Principles of Psychology (1890) to describe the flow of thoughts of the waking mind. In the book, James treated thinking and knowledge as weapons to help us cope with life. Sigmund Freud encouraged his patients to speak freely and without conscious control, to verbalise their unconscious thoughts, and�he published transcriptions of several of their monologues. Monologues and the idea of the stream of consciousness, that is the revelation of personality and behavioural motivation through unguarded speech, became, as a result,�a major literary and dramatic technique in the 20th century.
Q. Did dramatic monologues not exist before the 20th century
A. Asides and monologues have always existed in drama, but they usually included an element of collusion between speaker and audience. Stream of consciousness monologues, by contrast, give us the feeling that we are eavesdropping on a character's inner self, hearing things that the character may well not be aware of themselves or may prefer to conceal.
Q. So, stream of consciousness�is a literary technique
A. Well yes, this is the most common definition.�It was first popularised by the Irish poet and author, James Joyce. The main strength of his magnum opus, Ulysses (1922) lies in the depth of character portrayed using this technique, particularly the very long monologue by Molly Bloom att the end of the book.
Q. And the technique
A. Its a method of representing the mental processes of fictional characters as a continuous blending of sense-perceptions, thought, feelings and memories as if they were recorded directly without the author's intervention, sometimes without punctuation.
Q. Any other notable literary examples
A.�Other than Joyce, this technique, also known as interior monologue, was pioneered by Dorothy Richardson in Pilgrimage (1915-38), by Marcel Proust in A la recherche du temps perdu (1913-27), and further developed by Virginia Woolf in Mrs Dalloway (1925) and William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury (1929). Just this month, the British writer Jonathan Coe has broken the record for the longest continuous sentence in English in his novel The Rotters' Club. It's 13,737 words long, and catalogues the feelings of an adolescent boy who has just lost his virginity.
Q. So how do you actually do it
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By Simon Smith