Skip to main content

Just Listen Podcast: The New Dress

“The New Dress” by Virginia Woolf is perhaps one of the finest examples of stream-of-consciousness writing produced by an American or British author, many of whom dabbled in this genre once or twice in their writing careers, including William Faulkner, Samuel Beckett and Toni Morrison.

Stream of Consciousness is a type of writing that originated with the works of psychologist William James (brother of Novelist Emeritus Henry James). Basically, its purpose is to emulate the passage of thought through the mind without any inhibitors. For that reason, sentences become longer, less organized and more sporadic in style. Its lack of structure is not for everybody, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any order. Stream of consciousness permits deeper patterns of order to emerge, patterns based on the genuine movement of information in the brain. It also permits writers to simulate different forms of consciousness, such as dreams, comas, drug use and hallucinatory states.