stream of consciousness

stream of consciousness
1. Psychol. thought regarded as a succession of ideas and images constantly moving forward in time.

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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).

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      narrative technique in nondramatic fiction intended to render the flow of myriad impressions—visual, auditory, physical, associative, and subliminal—that impinge on the consciousness of an individual and form part of his awareness along with the trend of his rational thoughts. The term was first used by the psychologist William James (James, William) in The Principles of Psychology (1890). As the psychological novel developed in the 20th century, some writers attempted to capture the total flow of their characters' consciousness, rather than limit themselves to rational thoughts. To represent the full richness, speed, and subtlety of the mind at work, the writer incorporates snatches of incoherent thought, ungrammatical constructions, and free association of ideas, images, and words at the pre-speech level.

 The stream-of-consciousness novel commonly uses the narrative techniques of interior monologue. Probably the most famous example is James Joyce (Joyce, James)'s Ulysses (1922), a complex evocation of the inner states of the characters Leopold and Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. Other notable examples include Leutnant Gustl (1901) by Arthur Schnitzler (Schnitzler, Arthur), an early use of stream of consciousness to re-create the atmosphere of pre-World War I Vienna; William Faulkner (Faulkner, William)'s The Sound and the Fury (1929), which records the fragmentary and impressionistic responses in the minds of three members of the Compson family to events that are immediately being experienced or events that are being remembered; and Virginia Woolf (Woolf, Virginia)'s The Waves (1931), a complex novel in which six characters recount their lives from childhood to old age.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • stream of consciousness — n the continuous unedited flow of conscious experience through the mind …   Medical dictionary

  • stream of consciousness — n [U] the expression of thoughts and feelings in writing exactly as they pass through your mind, without the usual structure they have in formal writing …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • stream of consciousness — noun uncount the thoughts of a character in a book that are expressed as they happen …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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  • stream-of-consciousness — [strēm′əv kän′shəs nis] adj. designating, of, or using a narrative technique whereby the thoughts, percepts, etc. of one or more of the characters of a novel, short story, etc. are rendered in a direct, free flowing manner …   English World dictionary

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