R. Gray

German 390/Comp. Lit 396/Engl 363/CHID 498/JSIS 488/Lit 298

Freud and the Literary Imagination

On stream-of-consciousness as narrative method.

In 1887 the French writer Eduard Dujardin composed the first stream-of-consciousness novel, Les Lauriers sont Coupés (The laurels have been cut down; translated into English as We'll to the Woods No More). Forty years later, reflecting on what he had tried to accomplish by developing this narrative method, which he termed "interior monologue," Dujardin wrote:


"The interior monologue is the speech of a character in a scene, having for its object the direct introduction of the reader into the interior life of the character, without any interventions in the way of explanations or commentary on the part of the author; like other monologues, it has theoretically no hearers and is not spoken. But it differs from the traditional monologue in these respects: in the matter of content, it is the expression of the most intimate thoughts, those which lie nearest the unconscious; in its nature it is a speech which precedes logical organization, reproducing the intimate thoughts just as they are born and just as they come; as for form, it employs direct sentences reduced to the syntactical minimum; thus in general it fulfills the same requirements which we make today for poetry."


To what extent do the criteria Dujardin articulates for his novel describe the principles Schnitzler employs in Lieutenant Gustl? Are there further narrative qualities that seem to distinguish Schnitzler’s use of this technique from the elements Dujardin outlines here?


To what degree is the interior monologue coherent with an exposition of Freud’s view of the dynamic, conflicted human psyche? Can stream-of-consciousness justifiably be called the paradigmatic Freudian literary technique?