free indirect style

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Jane Austen (1775—1817) novelist

Gustave Flaubert (1821—1880) French novelist and short-story writer

point of view



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A way of narrating characters' thoughts or utterances that combines some of the features of third‐person report with some features of first‐person direct speech, allowing a flexible and sometimes ironic overlapping of internal and external perspectives. Free indirect style (a translation of French style indirecte libre) dispenses with tag‐phrases (‘she thought’, etc.), and adopts the idiom of the character's own thoughts, including indicators of time and place, as ‘She'd leave here tomorrow’, rather than ‘She decided to leave that place the next day’. The device was exploited by some 19th‐cent. novelists such as Austen and Flaubert, and has been widely adopted thereafter.

Subjects: Literature.

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