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Title: Conspicuous silences : implicature and fictionality in the Victorian novel
Author: Schuldiner, Ruth F.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 1759
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This dissertation examines the central use of implicature within the Victorian novel. 'Implicature' denotes a communicative strategy in which a reader must infer the primary meaning of an utterance from that utterance's relationship to its context, rather than 'decode' explicitly presented information. While all communications rely on implicature to an extent, the novels examined in this thesis contain large gaps in their explicit narration and rely primarily on implicature to communicate central elements of their plots. If readers do not recognise these texts' implicatures, the texts will often appear incoherent: their implicatures must be acknowledged in order for the text to be understood. Because little has been said about the central role implicature can play in fictional narration, this thesis contributes to interpretations of these novels that are currently being discussed in Victorian literary scholarship, as well as literary pragmatic debates about the use of implicature within fictional texts. The dissertation's secondary aim is to examine the implicatures which may be generated by the author's exploitation of certain reader assumptions. It focuses on the reader's potential assumption of narratorial omniscience, and relates it to the reader assumption of the narrative's fictionality. This secondary emphasis contributes to literary pragmatic conceptions of fictionality, and contributes to narratological discussions of narratorial omniscience. Chapter One examines represented illegitimate pregnancies in Victorian novels, and illustrates implicature's use as a politeness strategy. It explains how this use of implicature is called for by the novels' fictional and Victorian contexts. Chapter Two discusses implicatures which communicate characters' semiconscious romantic desires, and relates these representations to Victorian discourses on the unconscious and narratological scholarship on consciousness representation. Chapter Three discusses the central use of implicature in sensation fiction to create narrative 'puzzles', and connects the ensuing playful, sometimes offensive tone to these implicatures' satire of the realist mode.
Supervisor: Small, Helen ; Cameron, Deborah Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Victorian literature ; stylistics ; pragmatics ; implicature ; fictionality ; the novel