1st Edition

The Rhetoric of Literary Communication From Classical English Novels to Contemporary Digital Fiction

Edited By Virginie Iché, Sandrine Sorlin Copyright 2022
    244 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Building on the notion of fiction as communicative act, this collection brings together an interdisciplinary range of scholars to examine the evolving relationship between authors and readers in fictional works from 18th-century English novels through to contemporary digital fiction.

    The book showcases a diverse range of contributions from scholars in stylistics, rhetoric, pragmatics, and literary studies to offer new ways of looking at the "author–reader channel," drawing on work from Roger Sell, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, and James Phelan. The volume traces the evolution of its form across historical periods, genres, and media, from its origins in the conversational mode of direct address in 18th-century English novels to the use of second-person narratives in the 20th century through to 21st-century digital fiction with its implicit requirement for reader participation. The book engages in questions of how the author–reader channel is shaped by different forms, and how this continues to evolve in emerging contemporary genres and of shifting ethics of author and reader involvement.

    This book will be of particular interest to students and scholars interested in the intersection of pragmatics, stylistics, and literary studies.

    Introductory Chapter: Addressing Readers: New Theoretical Perspectives

    Virginie Iché & Sandrine Sorlin (Paul-Valéry University of Montpellier, France)

    I. Ethical Transactions with Readers

    Chapter 1. Authorial risk-taking: The relationship between Dickens and his readers

    Roger Sell (Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland)

    Chapter 2. "I hope I shall please my readers": Negotiating the Author-Reader Relationship in Two Corpora of British Novels, 1778-1814

    Juliette Misset (University of Strasbourg, France)

    Chapter 3. "You are my fictional audience, and as such I appreciate you very much": Direct Address in Contemporary American Young Adult Fiction About Mental Health

    Sara K. Day (Truman State University, USA)

    II. Revisiting Authorial Agency

    Chapter 4. Interpellation and Counter-interpellation in the Novel

    Jean-Jacques Lecercle (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre, France)

    Chapter 5. Deciphering the Joycean Address: Elusive Authority and Reader Agency in Ulysses

    Olivier Hercend (Sorbonne University, France)

    Chapter 6. "The Rest is Silence": Readerly Wo/anderings in the Unsaid

    Claire Majola-Leblond (University Jean Moulin - Lyon 3, France)

    III. Challenging Readers

    Chapter 7. (Im)politeness and the Question of Address in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood: a Pragmatics Approach

    Maurice Cronin (Paris Dauphine, France)

    Chapter 8. Phatic, Polemical, and Metaleptic Addresses to Readers in William Gerhardie’s The Polyglots

    Catherine Hoffmann (University of Le Havre-Normandie, France)

    Chapter 9. Humouring the Reader in Alan Bennett’s "A Chip in the Sugar"

    Vanina Jobert-Martini & Manuel Jobert (University Jean Moulin - Lyon 3, France)

    IV. From Oral to Digital Fiction and Back

    Chapter 10. "You know, are you you?" Being versus Playing the Second-Person in Digital Fiction

    Alice Bell (Sheffield Hallam University, UK)

    Chapter 11. Addressing the Reader and/or Character in Gamebooks: Ryan North’s To Be or Not to Be and Romeo and/or Juliet

    Baharak Darougari (University of Strasbourg, France)

    Chapter 12. "Now, normally, I wouldn’t be telling you this and you, I’m sure, would be happier if I wasn’t." The Modern-Day Storyteller in Roddy Doyle’s Charlie Savage (2019)

    Léa Boichard (University Savoie Mont Blanc, France)


    Virginie Iché is Associate Professor of Linguistics at University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3. She is the author of L’esthétique du jeu dans les Alice de Lewis Carroll (2015) and has edited the 92nd issue of the French journal CVE, "Talking to Children in Victorian and Edwardian Children’s Literature" (2020).

    Sandrine Sorlin is Professor of English Linguistics and Stylistics at the University Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3. She is the author of Language and Manipulation in House of Cards. A Pragma-stylistic Perspective (2016) and The Stylistics of ‘You’. The Second-person Pronoun and its Pragmatic Effects (forthcoming). She is Assistant Editor of Language and Literature.

    "Strongly grounded in the history of rhetorical literary theory, this excellent collection brings analysis of ‘you’-narratives and readerly address up to the present moment. The essays explore new dimensions of address to the reader in fiction, ranging from eighteenth-century novels to contemporary apps and gamebooks. Though the topic has been circulating among literary critics since the 1980s, this is the first comprehensive treatment of in/direct address in fiction, and it is long overdue."

    Robyn Warhol, College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor, The Ohio State University, USA


    "This volume opens up a grand vista of the development of reader address, from its use in didactic fiction in the eighteenth century to the interactive app fiction in the 21st century. Perusing it is like diving into a treasure trove of fascinating examples. Through its productive use of the intersections between literary, linguistic and pragmatic theory, it devises new paths of inquiry into the nature and manifestations of literary communication which positions the reader as someone who may be instructed, cajoled, enlisted, affected, challenged or insulted."

    Dr. Dorothee Birke, Associate Professor of English Literature, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, NTNU Trondheim, Norway