Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel

Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel

Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel

Bergson and the Stream of Consciousness Novel

Excerpt

The kind of fiction which has come to be known as the stream of consciousness novel has aroused much controversy since the publication of Dorothy Richardson Pointed Roofs in 1915. Although many critics have analysed its various aspects, none has, so far as I know, attempted to present a comprehensive Interpretation of its nature and scope in terms of Bergson's concept of durational flux, which seems to provide an important clue to the real creative impulse behind the new mode of portraying character as a ceaseless stream of becoming. In other words, the basic issues involved in this form of fiction are essentially of a metaphysical nature, as is suggested by the preoccupation of various protagonists in the novels of Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce with the ultimate nature of reality.

Of this new concept of experience as a process of qualitative interpenetration of states of consciousness, Bergson's philosophy seems to be the most comprehensive formulation; hence, "his representative importance" (to quote André Gide). The late Miss Dorothy Richardson corroborates the same view in a letter to this author. "No doubt", she writes, "Bergson influenced many minds, if only by putting into words something then dawning within the human consciousness: an increased sense of the inadequacy of the clock as a time-measurer".

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