Inner and outer worlds: speech and thought presentation in Mansfield’s Bliss

Annabelle Lukin 1  and Adriana Pagano 2
  • 1 Department of Linguistics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • 2 Faculdade de Letras, Univerdade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil
Annabelle Lukin and Adriana Pagano


Despite renewed attention to Katherine Mansfield’s writing in recent years, her work continues to be read largely for “its political and emotional sensibilities and so seldom... for the controlled effects of stylistic detail” (New 1999. Reading Mansfield and metaphors of form. McGill-Queen’s Press-MQUP: viii). In this article we consider her story “Bliss” in relation to how Mansfield choreographs the interplay between the inner and outer worlds of the central character and the consequences of her textual crafting of this interplay for a reading of the theme of Mansfield’s story. We draw largely on what is now considered “classical” stylistics, that is, stylistics informed by a social-semiotic linguistics (e. g. Butt 1983. Semantic Drift in Verbal Art. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 61, 34–48; Halliday 2002. Linguistic Studies of Text and Discourse. Volume 2 in the Collected Works of M.A.K. Halliday. London and New York: Continuum; Hasan 1985. Linguistics, Language and Verbal Art. Geelong, VIC: Deakin University Press; Hasan 1996a. On Teaching Literature Across Cultural Differences. In J. James Ed., The Language-Culture Connection pp. 34–63. Singapore: SEAMEO; Leech and Short 2007. Style in Fiction. 2nd Edition. London. Longman; Semino and Short 2004. Corpus Stylistics: Speech, Writing and Thought Presentation in a Corpus of English Writing. London: Routledge; Sotirova 2013. Consciousness in Modernist Fiction: A Stylistic Study. Palgrave Macmillan; Toolan 2001. Narrative: A critical linguistic introduction. Second Edition. Routledge; Toolan 2007. Language. In D. Herman Ed., The Cambridge companion to narrative pp. 231–244. Cambridge University Press;). Given the extensive variety of contributions to “post-classical” or “cognitive narratology” e. g. (Herman 2007. Introduction. In D. Herman (ed.), The Cambridge companion to narrative. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; McHale 2014. Speech Representation. In P. Hühn, J. C. Meister, J. Pier, & W. Schmid Eds., living handbook of narratology. Hamburg: Hamburg University. Retrieved from; Palmer 2004. Fictional minds. University of Nebraska Press) we briefly comment on why we have not taken this direction in our analysis.

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The Journal of Literary Semantics has pioneered and encouraged research into the relations between linguistics and literature. Widely read by theoretical and applied linguists, narratologists, poeticians, philosophers and psycholinguists, the journal publishes articles of a philosophical or theoretical nature that attempt to advance our understanding of the structures, dynamics, and significations of literary texts.