Clearer contours: The stylization of free indirect speech in nineteenth century fiction

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This chapter focuses on free indirect speech in nineteenth-century novels, where providing varied forms of access to characters (their speech, their motivations, their minds more generally) is an overriding concern in employing free indirect speech. Against the background of a broadly constructional model of present-day free indirect speech, nineteenth-century novelistic examples are analysed to show a variety of ways in which writers gradually “free up” indirect speech, using means like punctuation and quotation marks, and eventually clausal structures, some of which look decidedly out-of-date from the present perspective. Alongside free indirect forms, early forms of a more narrator-oriented counterpart, distancing indirect speech, are also discussed, as providing a subtly different mode of access to characters’ speech.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSpeech Representation in the History of English
Subtitle of host publicationTopics and Approaches
EditorsPeter J. Grund, Terry Walker
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages25
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-091806-4
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • constructions
  • discourse
  • fiction
  • fictional minds
  • distancing indirect speech
  • free indirect speech
  • indirect speech
  • Jane Austen
  • Walter Scott
  • quotation marks


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