The attempt to render someone's stream of consciousness in fiction corresponds to the turn of the century interest in the subconscious as well as to a reaction against the authorial intrusions of Victorian and Edwardian literature.
The problem was to try to render such a flow of thoughts, thoughts which are not always verbalized, not always coherent, sometimes fullt developed, sometimes half-conscious.
Compared to interior monologue, the stream of consciousnesstherefore has a more rambling or disjointed structure and contains freer associations (associational logic) to try to reflect the pre-speech level.
It was mainly used by Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson and William Faulkner. André Breton considered it as close to automatic writing in which thought is expressed without the control of reason.
A variety of methods can be used to convey the stream of consciousness.
- It can be direct: it is as if we overheard the character's thoughts without any intermediary.
- It can be indirect: we are conscious of a narrator selecting information and controlling the narrative.
- It can be expressed through short, often nominal, sentences, without logical links, as in Bloom's monologue in Ulysses.
- Or It can take the form of long, rambling sentences without any full stops, as in MollyBloom's final monologue in Ulysses.