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Home » » What is Stream of Consciousness Novels?

The stream of consciousness novel is an improved and more delicate form of the psychological novel which Richardson, George Eliot, Mrs. Gaskell,  and many others treated long before. The term ' stream of consciousness' was, perhaps,  used first by May Sinclair in connection with Dorothy Richardson's novels. What characterises this class of novel is the treatment of a character- a man or a women - not in his or her external life and doing, but in his or her inner world of psychology. A deep probe is made here into the dark corridor of a mind. An analytical survey is attempted of the intricate flow of the human brain. The Technique here is to render consciousness active in its own self, as it flows from moment to moment.  This Technique is found eminently used, with varying degrees of intensity, by Dorothy Richardson James Joyce and Mrs. Virginia Woolf, three big names in this king of fiction.

The stream of consciousness novel is concerned with the atmosphere of a mind.  It is not a novel of incidents or of action,  but rather treats the inner world of man. It depicts and illuminates the particular moments of human experiences and feelings and reveals how a mind is affected at its bottom by the same.  It turns from external reality to inner revelation, from the outward world of action to the hidden resort of reverie. 

The main aspect of this class of novel is found in an inward turning towards mental experiences and shocks. The novelist exposes how a man's mind moves mysteriously and how it flows continuously yet quite intricately.  He makes a penetrative analysis of this tendency of the mind, dissecting it in all its elusive and dynamic aspects. His is an expressionist technique to  reveal different characters- their inmost thoughts,  moods,  feelings however inconsequent or fragmentary these may be.  There may  appear something chaotic,  but in essence the whole approach is consistent.                                                                


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