‘Real’ Mind Style and Authenticity Effects in Fiction

Represented Experiences of War in Atonement

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fictional representations of the “mind styles” of characters are often valued for their realism and their ability to invite understanding and sympathy. However, the power of fictional narratives to influence perceptions of real-world individuals with similar experiences raises questions of accuracy and ethics with regards to mind style. This article explores the linguistic means through which impressions of “realism” and “authenticity” are invited or denied as part of a fictional mind style: specifically, that of a Second World War soldier, Robbie Turner, in McEwan’s Atonement (2001). I outline literary critical concerns surrounding “legitimate” war literature, before introducing responses to Atonement which reveal the significance of what is “real” for readers of this novel. Adopting a cognitive stylistic approach to mind style using Langacker’s Cognitive Grammar, I argue that the language of this text contributes to conflicting impressions of realism and authenticity on first and second readings as part of the ethical question it poses for readers.
© 2019 THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY PRESS
This article is used by permission of The Pennsylvania State University Press.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
JournalStyle
Volume53
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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Fiction
Atonement
Authenticity
Realism
Reader
Real World
Permission
Soldiers
Language
Cognitive Grammar
Cognitive Stylistics
Second World War
Sympathy
Fictional Narrative

Cite this

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‘Real’ Mind Style and Authenticity Effects in Fiction : Represented Experiences of War in Atonement. / Nuttall, Louise.

In: Style, Vol. 53, No. 2, 2019, p. 215-235.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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