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Stream of Consciousness


Woman Lying on Lawn Writing
Nick Daly/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images
Definition: Stream of Consciousness is a literary technique which was pioneered by Dorthy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. Stream of consciousness is characterized by a flow of thoughts and images, which may not always appear to have a coherent structure or cohesion. The plot line may weave in and out of time and place, carrying the reader through the life span of a character or further along a timeline to incorporate the lives (and thoughts) of characters from other time periods.

Writers who create stream-of-consciousness works of literature focus on the emotional and psychological processes that are taking place in the minds of one or more characters. Important character traits are revealed through an exploration of what is going on in the mind.
Also Known As: Interior Monologue
Common Misspellings: stream of conscients, steam of consciousness
The first example of stream of consciousness is sometimes said to be "Les Lauriers sont Coupes" (We'll to the Woods No More), by Edouard Dujardin, but some of the best known examples include: Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927), James Joyce's Ulysses (1918) and William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929).

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