Stream of consciousness (5863 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

  • John Mepham (Kingston University)
  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


Stream of consciousness writing aims to provide a textual equivalent to the stream of a fictional character’s consciousness. It creates the impression that the reader is eavesdropping on the flow of conscious experience in the character’s mind, gaining intimate access to their private “thoughts”. It involves presenting in the form of written text something that is neither entirely verbal nor textual. Stream of consciousness writing was developed in the early decades of the twentieth century when writers became interested in finding ways of laying open for readers’ inspection, in a way impossible in real life, the imagined inner lives of their fictional characters. The challenge was to find ways of writing that would create …

Mepham, John. "Stream of consciousness". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 17 October 2003
[, accessed 23 October 2016.]