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stream of consciousness

stream of consciousness, in literature, technique that records the multifarious thoughts and feelings of a character without regard to logical argument or narrative sequence. The writer attempts by the stream of consciousness to reflect all the forces, external and internal, influencing the psychology of a character at a single moment. The technique was first employed by Édouard Dujardin (1861–1949) in his novel Les Lauriers sont coupés (1888) and was subsequently used by such notable writers as James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and William Faulkner. The phrase "stream of consciousness" to indicate the flow of inner experience was first used by William James in Principles of Psychology (1890).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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