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Title: Corpus stylistics and Henry James's syntax
Author: Moss, L.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5364 8601
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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The starting point of this dissertation is a methodological question: how can corpus stylistics be used to analyse the syntax of literary fiction? A comparison of the syntax of Henry James’s late style in The Golden Bowl (1904) and his early style in Washington Square (1881) was used as a case study. While James’s late style is very widely discussed by literary critics and often seen as ‘difficult’, there has been very little evidence offered to substantiate this description. Within the extensive field of Henry James studies, there have been few linguistic descriptions of James’s prose. To remedy this, I compiled The Henry James Parsed Corpus (HJPC) from five chapters from each of the two novels. My analysis of the corpus showed that The Golden Bowl is more syntactically complex than Washington Square in a number of ways but only in sentences which do not contain direct speech. James’s idiosyncratic use of parenthesis was defined precisely using syntactic criteria and named delay. The Golden Bowl has more delay than Washington Square but also only in non-speech sentences. Only a small number of sentences have very high numbers of dependent clauses and/or delay. I argue that these exceptional sentences create the impression that the later text is homogeneously difficult. My research shows that this impression is deceptive; in fact the overwhelming majority of sentences in The Golden Bowl are no more syntactically complex than those of Washington Square. A secondary use of the HJPC is to assist close reading. Chapter outlines of the central chapter of each novel were generated and were found to mirror plot developments and dialogue sections. Salient sentences highlighted many key moments in the plot, or revealed aspects of characters’ personalities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available