Streams Beyond Consciousness: Stylistic Immediacy in the Modernist Novel

Vicki Mahaffey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The imprecision licensed by the term "stream of consciousness", coined by a psychologist and evoking cognition, is the impression that the literary method we are describing focuses on the mind of an individual. The first problem to confront when discussing this tremendous stylistic shift is the slipperiness of the terminology that has variously been used to designate it. The terms "stream of consciousness" and "interior monologue" are often used interchangeably, and the problem is confounded by the fact that the French typically prefer the term monologue intérieur, whereas English-speakers tend to favor "stream of consciousness." Simply by expanding the category of stylistic innovation in the twentieth-century novel from "stream of consciousness" to "stream of immediate subjective experience," we can see the relation between interior monologue and novels in free indirect discourse that similarly stage individual experience against a larger backdrop, whether that backdrop is cultural, mythic, or literary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Handbook of Modernism Studies
EditorsJean-Michel Rabaté
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781118488638
ISBN (Print)9780470658734
StatePublished - Apr 19 2013


  • Individual subjectivity
  • Interior monologue
  • Modernist novel
  • Stream of consciousness technique
  • Stream of immediate
  • Stylistic treatment
  • Subjective experience
  • Women writers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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