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Wednesday, 2 June 2010

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Bringing out the internal dialogue

In each of us, when awake (and often when asleep), some kind of consciousness is always going on. There is a stream, a succession of states, or waves, or fields or of whatever you please to call them, of knowledge, of feeling, of desire, of deliberation, etc., that constantly pass and re-pass, and that constitute our inner life.

Stream of consciousness is literary technique which seeks to describe an individual’s point of view by giving the written equivalent of the character’s thought processes. It is regarded as a special form of interior monologue and is characterized by associative (and at times dissociative) leaps in syntax and punctuation that can make the prose difficult to follow, tracing as they do a character’s fragmentary thoughts and sensory feelings. In stream of consciousness, the speaker’s thought processes are more often depicted as overheard or addressed to oneself.


 Eva Ranaweera

Stream of Consciousness is a literary technique which was pioneered by Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and James Joyce. A towering figure in the modernist literary period, James Joyce is considered the most prominent English-speaking writer of the first half of the twentieth century.

While he wrote in a number of genres, including drama and lyric poetry, Joyce’s reputation rests primarily on his prose works. Joyce’s novels, including A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922), are widely considered ground-breaking works of fiction which not only fundamentally redefined the novel as a genre, but pushed the limits of the English language itself.

Joyce is among the most widely-read and studied figures in the history of English literature, and is often considered as significant a talent as John Milton and William Shakespeare.

Joyce is one of the most thoroughly read and analyzed authors in English literature. Numerous and varied interpretations of his work abound; critics have provided religious, feminist, socio-political, historical, sexual, and autobiographical perspectives on his fiction. His brilliant and innovative utilization of language remains a recurring interest of literary critics, as is Joyce’s use of humour. Literary critics note that his life has come to symbolize the spiritual alienation of the modern artist, and his work has spawned numerous imitations.

A complicated artistic genius, he created a body of work worthy of comparison with the masterpieces of English literature. His literary influence is considered profound, and such writers as Samuel Beckett, William Faulkner, Thomas Pynchon, and John Irving are regarded as his literary descendants.

From Sri Lanka, one may be able to add another name to this list of writers, who followed Joyce in their works. The writer is Eva Ranaweera. Eva is the first woman writer who brought stream of consciousness into Sinhala literature. The credit of introducing the stream of consciousness into Sinhala novel goes to Siri Gunasinghe in his novel “Sevenalla” (The Shadow), but Eva was the writer who used in profoundly and more meaningfully.

For, the stream of consciousness has been used as a narrative form in all her four of novels. In fact, she excelled in this technique. There are many reasons for her expertise in this form of narrative style. Chief among them was that James Joyce who was the pioneer in this style was her favourite author. She had read Joyce’s “Ulysses” not once but several times.

Eva shows up an excellence in deriving colloquial Sinhala in the form of stream of consciousness. It was always a great meeting point of a genre and theme. Eva brings out feelings and emotions of the ordinary village lasses in both her books ‘Laisa’ and ‘Sedona’, keeping their consciousness alive to the readers.

The technique allows her to dive into their lives, capture their desires and present them in the best way. If Eva wished to write in favour of women and how they become victims in a male dominated society, the wishes have been fulfilled because of the positive method of presentation. Both ‘Laisa’ and ‘Sedona’ face to emotional turbulences over their love lives, and secrecy matters, so no one else there for them for refuge other than their own consciousness.

Eva has conquered the technique of the stream of consciousness as a best practice in feminist literature.

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