Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style

Translated by Dorrit Cohn
Germanic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature, Harvard

Translator’s Preface

Readers of modern views on free indirect style (as the form is known in English) are rarely aware that this phenomenon was discovered, and intensively discussed in French and German, as early as the first decades of the twentieth century. For this reason, I have translated a series of articles that were published in Germanisch-Romanische Monatsschrift (GRM )—one of the journals most interested in the question—in the years immediately preceding World War I. Though I have abbreviated them (and as a result altered some of their details), I have tried to keep their main arguments intact. These arguments revolve around the nature of free indirect style— whether it is a form of quotation or a factual report by the narrator—and consequently the name to be applied to it: Bally’s style indirect libre (free indirect style), or Kalepky’s verschleierte Rede (veiled discourse), or Lerch’s Imperfektum der Rede (imperfect of discourse).1 Bally, a student of de Saussure, writing in French, represents the school of Geneva in regarding free indirect style as an objective and purely literary phenomenon. Kalepky and Lerch, students of Vossler, writing in German, represent the school of Munich in regarding free indirect style as a subjective phenomenon in which the narrator adopts the viewpoint of a character, and they look for its origin in spoken language. Thus the first scholars regard the form as grammatically
1. Its standard German phrasing today is erlebte Rede. Poetics Today 26:3 (Fall 2005). Copyright © 2005 by the Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics.

Strohmeyer is right in saying that indirect style using subordination disagrees with modern French. .). University of Geneva GRM 4 (1912): 549–56. . whereas it developed widely in the literary language of the past hundred years. and in his opinion. penser. . even as it transposes the words and thoughts by the use of tenses proper to indirect style. etc. this avoidance is increased because our language cannot. all artistic manuals advise avoiding them. The translation of quoted passages is my own. but the fact is that grammars ignore it almost completely. I limit myself to remind my reader that this form is characterized by the presence of an introductory verb (of saying or believing: dire. 297f. this will allow us to explain certain facts of temporal syntax to which is generally given a different interpretation. Yet French has an indirect style that gives the illusion of direct speech. etc. . Paul viendra and Paul disait.502 Poetics Today 26:3 static. Mr. a disagreement which is still greatly at issue in today’s discussions of the subject. pensait que Paul viendrait ).). annoncer. .: Qu’est-ce qui empêche Paul de venir? and Pierre demande ce qui empêche Paul. finally. where this free form is an exception. introduce one or more indirect sentences without the help of a subordinating conjunction. . finally. croire. ce qui. ‘‘Free Indirect Style in Modern French’’ by Charles Bally. analogous to the one in German. This assertion is not exact in its generality: French knows a free indirect style that is not conjectural. I assume that the modifications by which direct enunciation is transformed into indirect style are well known. F. as we know. because they are ordinarily based on classical language. . Strohmeyer remarks that French avoids indirect style. we will ask ourselves if the grammarians’ ignorance of free indirect style is not related to a defect in method that we will define at the end of this study. these forms being used by extension to reproduce the subject’s own words and thoughts (cf.We will describe this free indirect style and its principal variations. . . and the persons of the verb in passing from direct to indirect form. by a number of grammatical words (que. Mr. the whole range of the syntactical forms that reproduce the words and thoughts of a third person (cf. . In his interesting work Der Stil der französischen Sprache (pp. the modes. .). Paul viendra and Pierre disait. 597–606 Indirect style includes. The following passage from Mérimée shows the procedure with which we are concerned in its full extension: . . pensait qu’il viendrait ). by the transformations that affect the tenses. the second as psychologically evolutive. ce que [for qu’est-ce qui. we make a face when a sentence contains too many qui and que. cf. like German. si. qu’est-ce que].

C’ÉTAIT BIEN DE CHANSONS QU’ALORS IL S’AGISSAIT! (La Fontaine. Delighted by this unexpected encounter. AND WHAT A PLEASURE TO SHOW HER ALBUM WHEN SHE RETURNED TO SAINT JAMES PLACE! ‘‘Why. she threatened to go to the Near East. .’’] Let us now examine more closely the different forms taken by the free indirect style. elle avait réponse à tout. SHE LIKED ABOVE ALL TO TRAVEL ON HORSEBACK. . He spoke in vain of the wildness of the country and of the difficulty for a woman to travel in it: SHE WAS NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING. DE RETOUR À SAINT-JAMES PLACE. en ce commun besoin. because AN ENGLISH WOMAN HAD NEVER BEEN TO CORSICA. ET QUEL BONHEUR. We will order the following examples accordingly.—Comment! vous avez été en Corse? . Se plaint qu’elle agit seule et qu’elle a tout le soin.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 503 C’etait peut-être la première fois qu’un désir manifesté.—What! you have been to Corsica? . En vain il parla de la sauvagerie du pays et de la difficulté pour une femme d’y voyager: ELLE NE CRAIGNAIT RIEN. In short. par le colonel eût obtenu l’approbation de sa fille. the remainder does without conjunctions: La mouche. It’s only a sketch I made of a famous Corsican bandit who served as our guide. SHE ESPECIALLY ENJOYED SLEEPING IN THE OPEN AIR. DE MONTRER SON ALBUM! ‘‘Pourquoi donc. Enchanté de cette rencontre inattendue. ELLE SE FAISAIT UNE FÊTE DE COUCHER AU BIVAC. in this common need. DONC ELLE DEVAIT Y ALLER. ELLE AIMAIT AVANT TOUT À VOYAGER À CHEVAL. That no one helps the horses to cope. IT WAS SURELY SONGS THAT WERE NEEDED THEN!] (b) Only two conjunctions open the indirect discourse. Complains that it acts all alone and that it has all the work. THE MONK RECITED HIS BREVIARY. (a) The statement is introduced by three subordinating conjunctions. elle menaçait d’aller en Asie Mineure. HE TOOK ALL HIS TIME! A WOMAN SANG. ma chère. THUS SHE HAD TO GO THERE. passez-vous ce charmant dessein?—Oh! ce n’est rien. car JAMAIS ANGLAISE N’AVAIT ÉTÉ EN CORSE. . . C’est un croquis que j’ai fait d’après un fameux bandit corse qui nous a servi de guide. . she had an answer to everything. Qu’aucun n’aide aux chevaux à se tirer d’affaire. he nonetheless had the good sense to make a few objections to irritate this happy caprice of miss Lydia’s. let us see how it distances itself gradually from the classical form of indirect discourse and how it approaches more and more the pure direct style. did you pass by this charming drawing?—Oh! it’s nothing.’’ (Colomba) [It was perhaps the first time that a desire of the colonel received the agreement of his daughter. my dear. the remainder has the free form: . LE MOINE DISAIT SON BRÉVIAIRE: IL PRENAIT BIEN SON TEMPS! UNE FEMME CHANTAIT. La mouche du coche) [The fly. . Bref. il eut pourtant le bon sens de faire quelques objections pour irriter l’heureux caprice de miss Lydia. .

) or else that the verb has already a direct substantive regime excluding a subordinating conjunction (e. MAIS À PARIS. CÉTAIT SI LAID. ON LUI AVAIT VOLÉ SON PORTE-MONNAIE. since the grammars. . etc. s’emporter. SI BAS . SHE HAD NOT BEEN CONDEMNED.] (d) Finally. IL RETOURNERAIT EN VACANCES CHEZ SON PÈRE. for this to happen. HE WOULD RETURN TO SPEND HIS VACATIONS AT HIS FATHER’S HOUSE. it is sufficient that the introductory verb of the indirect style be intransitive and that it cannot therefore be followed by a sentence with que (e.] (e) In all the examples seen up to this point. every external trace of subordination can disappear. en disant que lui. and it is precisely the absence of such a verb that constitutes the free indirect style. saying that he was not an executioner. .g. THEY HAD NOTHING TO HIDE FROM EACH OTHER. Lenôtre) [The child. ce qu’elle avait toujours évité. HIS PARENTS LIVED NEAR DAVERY.] (c) Only the first proposition is subordinated: L’enfant. Here is an example: Elle [Sappho] se mit à lui parler longuement de sa famille. a thing she had always avoided: IT WAS SO UGLY. SO LOW . Débâcle) [The officer gave himself big punches. raconta qu’il était étranger à la ville. ce n’était pas lui. subitement mis en confiance. ajouter foi. . HE WOULD CUT OFF HIS HAND RATHER THAN TOUCH A HAIR ON HER HEAD. . if there were some people who killed the innocent.). (G. THEY STOLE HIS PURSE. dire son mot. Daudet.. (Zola. BUT THEY KNEW EACH OTHER BETTER NOW. exhaler sa coèlre. etc. Sappho) [She {Sappho} began speaking to him at length about her family. . if it was not clearly a verb of thinking or saying. BUT IN PARIS. ELLE N’AVAIT PAS ÉTÉ CONDAMNÉE. ‘‘regular’’ syntax would demand the injection of a verb of saying or believing. Here is a clear example: . he wasn’t one of them. by ignoring free indirect style. . We shall see that the introductory verb can be absent altogether. suddenly trusting. allowed one at least to reconstitute in thought a verb of this category. être embarassé. n’était pas un bourreau. SES PARENTS HABITAIENT AUX ENVIRONS DE DAVERY. parler. In all these cases. ON N’AVAIT PLUS RIEN À SE CACHER. . told that he was a stranger in the city. the introductory verb. MAIS ON SE CONNAISSAIT MIEUX MAINTENANT. . that. This is the most interesting case. etc. . IL SE COUPERAIT LA MAIN PLUTÔT QUE DE TOUCHER UN CHEVEU DE SA TÊTE.g. (A. s’il y en avait qui tuaient les innocents. que. etc. ne rien cacher. interpret it quite differently.504 Poetics Today 26:3 L’officier s’appliquait de grands coups de poing..

We must not get used to impractical pleasures when we have a thousand require- . SHE HAS YOUR NOSE. IT WOULD ALWAYS BE LIKE THAT. is often nothing but a future transposed into indirect style. Lheureux.] l) [You decided to stay after all? he added. Madame Bovary [pt. GIVEN THE FATAL CIRCUMSTANCE. but traditional grammar.] III. . and she began to look for. Jean Christophe) [The night crushed him. . IT WAS MONTHS HE WAS THERE!] The conditional has no special value in the syntax of the indirect style. . . C’EST TON NEZ. the fabric salesman. Thus free indirect style can easily end in direct discourse: Elle s’attablait. le marchand d’étoffes.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 505 Tout à coup ils virent entrer par la barrière M. . . IL Y AVAIT DES MOIS QU’IL ÉTAIT LÀ! (R. VOIS-TU. à détailler la ressemblance de la petite avec eux deux. CE SERAIT TOUJOURS AINSI. she said. . L’heureux. or more exactly the imperfect of the future. . EU ÉGARD À LA FATALE CIRCONSTANCE. . dit-elle et j’ai eu tort. We can see it in the following passage. . (Flaubert. based on grammatical forms rather than forms of thought.] III. . which offers nothing particular. Germinie Lacerteux) [She sat down at the table.] But the inverse case is frequently found as well: [Emma Bovary chats with Léon]: Vous vous êtes donc décidée à rester? ajouta-t-il. . C’EST TOUT TOI. there is reason to expect a passage to one or the other of the extreme forms.—Eh! non. IL VENAIT OFFRIR SES SERVICES. One trait was his. Emma répondit qu’elle croyait pouvoir s’en passer. (Goncourt. enter through the barrier. . C’EST MES YEUX. . MAIS LES HOMMES AUSSI AVAIENT LEURS CHAGRINS. .] 2) [All of a sudden they saw M. et elle se mettait à chercher. Free indirect style being an intermediary form. SHE WOULD NEVER FINISH. ELLE NE FINIRAIT JAMAIS. (Flaubert.— Oui. Rolland. [chap. Madame Bovary [pt. [chap. another hers. it is simply the tense that corresponds to the future of direct style. Thus the conditional. VOILÀ TES MAINS . SHE HAS YOUR HANDS . Un trait était à lui.] This example suggests analogous interpretations for syntactical cases that one explains quite differently. et la conversation s’engagea par quelques réflexions philosophiques. ALTOGETHER LIKE YOU. . . quand on a autour de soi mille exigences. . l’enfant sur ses genoux . YOU SEE. and I was wrong. to detail the likeness of the little one to the two of them. . HE CAME TO OFFER HIS SERVICES.—Yes. car vous n’êtes pas une femme. makes this into a special case: La nuit l’écrasait. Emma answered that she believed she could do without them. . Il ne faut pas s’accoutumer à des plaisirs impracticables. SHE HAS MY EYES.—Oh! je m’imagine. un autre à elle. the child on her knees .

I believe that there is a more essential difference between these two tenses. I enjoy especially sleeping in the open air. . this part of her answer had to be: (Si l’on n’accède pas à mon désir). It seems to me that it is this subjective nuance that allows one to explain certain uses of the imperfect which grammarians interpret too subtly to be correct.’’ [it seems like we are leaving. . outside the enunciation of the words or the thoughts.—Oh! no. une longue secousse ébranla le navire. there is more generally a subjective aspect of thought. everything is in order. . in reestablishing the direct style. much more. menaçait is a declarative verb surrounded by indirect imperfects and attracted by them. . a long jolt shook the ship.] Free indirect style extends its action. . that this conclusion is drawn by Jack himself. il fallait croire qu’on partait’’ [‘‘Evidently one was leaving. The clearest case is the one where the verb is interpolated. I’ll go to the Near East].—Oh! I imagine. the regular noise of the steam. because you are not a woman. j’irai en Asie Mineure [{If one does not listen to my wish}. that it ‘‘makes a picture. . j’aime par dessus tout voyager à cheval. . . the propeller was set in motion. this sentence by Alphonse Daudet: Comme il [Jack] mettait le pied sur l’échelle . . . je me fais une fête de coucher au bivac [{The daughter of the colonel answered:} I am not afraid of anything. p. BUT MEN TOO HAD THEIR SORROWS. as though he had said: ‘‘Tiens! il parait qu’on part. la vapeur qui grondait depuis le matin régularisa son bruit. those where the independence of the indirect verb is complete.] We could say (and this is the interpretation that Strohmeyer would give. one had to think one was leaving’’]. one cannot even speak of indirect style. the steam which roared since morning regularized its noise. the movement of the propeller) make one conclude that departure is imminent. and the conversation continued with some philosophical reflections. in extreme cases.506 Poetics Today 26:3 ments around us. . l’hélice se mit en branle. this verb is attracted by the verbs of the enunciation and is used in the same tense. . ON PARTAIT.’’ whereas on partit would designate simply an event that follows upon the preceding ones. I like above all to travel on horseback. On partait [one was leaving] means roughly: ‘‘Évidemment on partait. They are actually subjective imperfects. to the introductory verb itself. . which is to say that the described indices (the jerk. The description of free indirect style made earlier shows that this form of expression benefits from an almost absolute syntactical freedom. With reference to the passage of Mérimée quoted earlier. one would obtain: (La fille du colonel répondit:) Je ne crains rien. For example. . by a sort of construction ad sensum. 44) that on partait marks an event thought of affectively.] Up to this point. [As he ( Jack) put his foot on the ladder. but it is impossible that the young girl added: JE MENACE d’aller en Asie Mineure [I threaten to go to the Near East].] . ONE WAS LEAVING.

‘‘On ‘Free Indirect Style’ (‘Veiled Discourse’)’’ by Th. . the true indirect style. Bally rightly says: ‘‘It is impossible that the young girl added [in direct speech] ‘Je menace d’aller en Asie Mineure’ [I threaten to go to the Near . he skillfully and appealingly calls it free indirect style—in distinction from the real. for example. Finally. elle se faisait une fête de coucher au bivac. .e. elle aimait par-dessus tout à voyager. University of Berlin GRM 5 (1913): 608–19 In a very thorough and astute article in this journal.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 507 I insist on the particular character of this explication. . The fact that one does not see how greatly this method paralyzes syntactical studies is astonishing. . He is undoubtedly right that it is in fact impossible to transform some passages represented by free indirect style to direct speech by the customary change in tense and person. Kalepky. . That is why the imperfects called here subjective are essentially of the same nature as those of free indirect style. Mr. and the grammarians take as their basis grammatical forms. she liked above all to travel. it will perhaps show the necessity to change the orientation of descriptive grammars. between it and the one of the grammarians mentioned. The reason is simple: free indirect style is a form of thought. whereas this is nonsensical for the last part (here in capitals). in the following passage from Mérimée’s Colomba: elle ne craignait rien. she especially enjoyed sleeping in the open air. SHE THREATENED TO GO TO THE NEAR EAST]. ELLE MENAÇAIT D’ALLER EN ASIE MINEURE [she was not afraid of anything. After careful presentation of its genesis and development from the latter. Bally has considered a stylistic representation that has attained an unusual popularity in modern narrative literature. . If our study of free indirect style seems satisfactory. there is more than a nuance. an influence of the linguistic form of surrounding parts that runs counter to strict logic. Mr. He shows this clearly and distinctly. Why is free indirect style nowhere mentioned in them? .. they show that these facts have passed through the brain of a subject on the scene of a narrative or of a subject that one can easily imagine. I cannot help reflecting on the manner in which this entire question is—or rather is not—treated in French grammars. mine supposes a true transposition of the objective into the subjective. .’’ i. where the first part of this discourse of the heroine (in free indirect style) is easily converted into true direct speech by a mere change of the third person into the first and of the preterite into the present. he shows different highly conspicuous traits which he cannot explain in any other way than by supposing an ‘‘attraction. . those imperfects do not indicate a particular manner in which the facts themselves are envisioned.

.’’ There is nothing in principle against such an attempt at explanation. an influence that goes counter to the rules of linguistic logic. danced. ne pouvait pas mettre une pantoufle! (Zola. . . . mon Dieu! elle qu’il avait vue pendant des années. .’’ . . my God! She. Just think! Shoes. . The fact is that the conspicuousness and difficulty which face us in a more exact examination of free indirect style are not limited to the temporal side of the question. raconter l’histoire des bottines que madame la comtesse [after the healing of her lameness] lui avait données et avec lesquelles. where the writer . . There is then a veiling of the facts—in a certain sense a deception of the reader . . . dansé.e. . The narrator does not reproduce the thoughts or words of his characters in either an ‘‘indirect’’ or a ‘‘direct’’ way. It is well known and generally accepted that attraction. Lourdes). depuis trois ans. particularly to the region of ‘‘person. i. sur une question de madame de Jonquière. Bally’s explanation by supposing attraction . she had run. Songez donc! des bottines. sauté. that he will take them as the thoughts and words of the character and that he will understand them correctly. she could not put on slippers!] Or: Elle. . miraculously cured in Lourdes] dut encore. Such a phenomenon cannot any more be called free indirect style. . j’irai en Asie Mineure!’’’ [(If one does not listen to my wish. could have avoided the use of the first person by other expressions of astonishment (like grand Dieu. nor does it take into account only the difficulties touched on by Mr. surrounded by indirect imperfects and attracted by them. . but they extend much further. .) I’ll go to the Near East]. on which he did not touch. elle qui. . to tell the story of the shoes that the countess had given her and with which. . . . Mr. It is rather the style that replaces the reproduction of words and thoughts of . it also considers some others. and he adds as explanation: ‘‘menaçait is a declarative verb. However. for example).508 Poetics Today 26:3 East]. this part of her answer had to be: ‘(Si l’on n’accède pas à mon désir). elle avait couru. . whom he had seen for years with dead legs. les jambes mortes. Bally examined thoroughly. in fact expects it of him. . . but he clothes them in the form which he would give to his own thoughts and words and leaves it to the reader. . . . in the case before us there seems to be a way of understanding it that does not need to have recourse to attraction. [She had additionally. . . seems to me insufficient. . . la face couleur de plomb [She. Bally. . . is one of the most meaningful factors in the shaping of expressions in all languages. as harmless as it is effective. ravie. when for three years. . . jumped. which Mr.. delighted. in answer to a question of Madame de Jonquière. There are places where quite unexpectedly imperatives (thus cases of second person) or exclamations like ‘‘Mon Dieu’’ [‘‘My God’’] (thus first person) appear. For example: Elle [the little Sophie. . . In view of such strange cases. her face the color of lead].

. penetrated. se demandant: Entrerai-je ou retournerai-je sur mes pas? . They are. to the character. . by a kind of fiction. this reporter would be Zola. .’’ without mixing his personality with that of the subject. that is to say that the narration in direct or indirect style is confused with the narration external to direct or indirect style but in such a manner that the reader attributes the utterance to its true author. (b) Pierre s’arrêta: entrerait-il ou retournerait-il sur ses pas? . . . as we will see. One thing needs to be pointed out from the start: the trait common to the three styles. . . . ..’’ . presents the words or the thoughts of the subject as though they came from himself. and even. by the words written by the author. namely. Free indirect style: (a) La déclaration de Pierre fut catégorique: Paul était coupable. Kalepky differs . According to him. without trying to substitute himself for him. 456–70 In an article in this journal. . In all three cases. .g. The following examples will show the similarities and the differences existing between these three grammatical modes: Direct style: (a) Pierre déclara catégoriquement: Paul est coupable. . (b) Pierre s’arrêta. often also followed. il expierait sa faute.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 509 the character by the narrator’s own thoughts and speeches . The utterance is preceded. . will have to be established again. . Zola) is absolutely distinct from the subject (e.g. . mixed. . the narrator. se demandant s’il entrerait ou s’il retournerait sur ses pas. forms of syntax. . serves him simply as ‘‘voice-carrier.’’ ‘‘Figures of Thought and Linguistic Forms’’ by Charles Bally. . . Proper indirect style: (a) Pierre déclara catégoriquement que Paul était coupable. one has the enunciation of words or thoughts attributed to a subject by a person who reports these words or these thoughts. Pierre). though to different degrees. . . In GRM [5]. Kalepky . We see the two essential points on which Mr.. for example. thus ‘‘veiling style’’ or ‘‘veiled discourse. University of Geneva GRM 6 (1914): 405–22. grammatical types. the reader has the very clear impression that the narrator (e. gives an entirely different explanation of free indirect style. The fundamental trait common to the three styles is that the narrator objectively reproduces words or thoughts without adding anything of his own. which I thought had been established. qu’il expierait sa faute. il expiera sa faute. I have tried to show that French has a free indirect style which has traits of ordinary indirect style and direct style. . Mr. if the quoted sentences were drawn from one of his novels. This trait of objectivity. which he calls ‘‘veiled discourse. (b) Pierre s’arrêta.

II. without great value of person. . que Madame la comtesse lui avaient donnés. then I will oppose to them a series of other signs to which I believe that the subjects attach a value that leads to other conclusions (II). she could not put on slippers!] Mr. whereas one feels. indirect style. . . . des belles bottines toutes neuves. after characterizing the difference that separates indirect style from the figure by substitution of the subject (III) and having illuminated this distinction by a parallel case (IV). delighted. for three years. . or following the utterance. jumped. depuis trois ans. . et avec lesquelles. . ravie. In Zola: Elle [Sophie] dut encore . . elle avait couru. dansé! Songez donc! des bottines. . . (A) Indices external to the utterance: They all amount to the presence of some expression that involves a verb of thinking or saying .510 Poetics Today 26:3 from me: (1) the utterance is no longer objective. sauté. But. by different indications that I will examine further on. Kalepky thinks that Songez donc! [Just think!]. so near to free indirect style. by its direct form. Kalepky thinks he can recognize the figure of substitution of the subject (‘‘veiled discourse’’) where free indirect style seems to me undeniable. a figure of thought (understanding by figure a manner of conceiving and expressing a representation that does not conform to objective reality or to ‘‘linguistic logic’’) . inserted. that it is Sophie who speaks and that this exclamative Songez donc!. like Mon Dieu! Songez donc! . . I. . she had run. (2) it is not a matter of a grammatical form but of a figure. when. it is a matter of exclamative and thus depersonalized expressions. . . raconter l’histoire des bottines. I will try to show that the indices on which Mr. proves the intervention of the narrator. the beautiful brand-new shoes that the countess had given to her and with which. and free indirect style and that the effect of them all is to show that there is an objective reproduction of utterances. ne pouvait pas mettre une pantoufle! [She {Sophy} had additionally to tell the story of the shoes. . in all the passages quoted by Mr. . . danced! Just think! Shoes. I will lead from these particular facts back to general views (V and VI). . [either] preceding. . Mr. elle qui. . This is identical to saying that these indices are common to direct style. is an escape into pure direct style. . Kalepky. Kalepky leans to prove that the author substitutes himself for his character (where I see indirect style) are ‘‘formal’’ signs without true value for the speaking subject (I). Such is the value of the indices through which Mr. the narrator is no longer a simple ‘‘voice-carrier’’. Kalepky believes he can find in the use of grammatical persons the indication that the narrator intervenes directly in the utterance of words or of thoughts of his character.

Direct style: Il déclara catégoriquement: je veux partir. Kalepky wants it to be—a figure of thought which gives the illusion that the narrator speaks in his own name—these tenses would no longer be transposed: voulait would be a true imperfect. Kalepky means by the (badly chosen) term ‘‘veiled discourse’’ is like a figure of thought. and partirait a present conditional. not understood the nature and the limits of the phenomenon. indirect style. with whom they are incompatible. though indirectly. constructions.2 2. III and in IV. Indirect style: Il déclara catégoriquement qu’il voulait partir. or simply absurd. persons. . . . . modes. the meaning is then altogether different. Kalepky wishes? . (C) Syntactical indices—the tenses of the utterance: Among the traits common to the indirect style and to the free indirect style. . . they are transposed. . . characterized by grammatical signs (tenses. [But we need to distinguish] between linguistic type and figure of thought.). hinder the confusion between the subject and the narrator. Bally’s article now (in the rest of vol. If the narrator is designated in the utterance in the third person. (E) Indices identifying the subject : One can unify under this title the extremely varied facts which. Direct style. the most striking is the transposition of the tenses of the verbs according to the rules that the usual grammar teaches. . since he includes in it the whole of free indirect style and he supports it with examples that are contrary to the idea which he holds of it. . il partirait. I believe. The forms voulait and partirait are presents and indirect futures. by following each other. . Free indirect style: Sa déclaration était catégorique: il voulait partir. natural if one attributes them to the former. mutually control each other and every wrong interpretation is excluded. can one still think that he makes believe that he is speaking in his own name. but he has. (D) Syntactical indices—the persons of the utterance: We know the transpositions that the persons of the verb undergo in the indirect style. . V. je partirai. as Mr. . . What Mr. . . . are syntactical types. qu’il partirait. and VI) takes up problems of general linguistics and is no longer immediately concerned with free indirect style. . An example to illustrate this. etc. The diverse styles.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 511 (B) Indices contained within the utterance: Passage to another of the three styles. . . . But if the free indirect style is what Mr. they are ambiguous or absurd if one attributes them to the latter. and free indirect style belong to grammar. III.

. (2) (er sagte. . Since indirect speech represents the least reality . But now it is also important to point up its aesthetic significance. apparently because direct speech is in the present and in the first person. University of Munich GRM 6 (1914): 470–89 Ch.] I. we get a different scale: (1) indirect speech: er SEI nicht zufrieden. (3) Speech as fact: er war nicht zufrieden. [p. I will use German examples . (2) indirect discourse.3 Thereby the purely factual understanding of the construction in question is assured. direct speech (‘‘Ich bin nicht zufrieden’’) has a greater effect than the imperfect of discourse as fact (er war nicht zufrieden). stylistically. (3) imperfect of discourse. . to give examples: (1) (er sagte:) ‘‘Ich bin nicht zufrieden’’. . . Kalepky has added complements that are materially and ideologically valuable. If. Bally deserves our thanks for having drawn attention in this journal to a stylistic peculiarity of French which he calls ‘‘free indirect style. . the following scale (ordered according to mounting reality) could be expected: (1) indirect speech: er sei nicht zufrieden. I must reject Bally’s name of ‘‘free indirect style. what is said is formally not to be distinguished from a fact reported by the author (er war nicht zufrieden). Bally’s article ‘‘Figures of Thought and Linguistic Forms’’ was not known to Lerch.] 229 [She HAD. The writer of novels has three choices for expressing the speeches (or the thoughts) of his characters: (1) direct discourse. . but rather a speech or thought presented as a fact. As a result.’’ because it is not at all. a matter of a kind of indirect style. .512 Poetics Today 26:3 ‘‘The Stylistic Meaning of the Imperfect of Discourse (Free Indirect Style)’’ by Eugen Lerch. . Now it could be supposed that what is reported as a fact is more real than what is merely said. 1909). which I will try to do in what follows.) er sei nicht zufrieden (or: wäre nicht zufrieden). never seen a more beautiful bride]). not at all a matter of an omitted que. . strafe sie Gott. Buddenbrooks [vol. . more real than what is said in direct speech. solely the context or interspersed elements of direct speech (interjections and such like) allow us to recognize that we have read something spoken and not something that happened (e. (2) direct speech: ‘‘Ich bin nicht zufrieden’’. the wie er sagte is omitted. Only. either in French or in German. as the following examples will show. niemals eine schönere Braut gesehen. (3) er war nicht zufrieden (wie er sagte). since it appeared in the same issue of GRM. in case 3 (which is our concern here). Berlin. . .g. all from one text: the novel Buddenbrooks by Thomas Mann (45th edition. . it becomes apparent that.’’ and Th. or. Sie HATTE. while speech as fact is ‘‘merely’’ in the past and the third person. (2) speech as fact: er WAR nicht 3. . may God punish her.

.] The könne shows that the blieb also belongs to the speech of Lebrecht Kröger. The neighbors. This paradoxical circumstance results in two different uses of our imperfect. . but at the same time reports about the fact that he really stayed with the ladies.] Already the word ‘‘Gesprächsstoff ’’ suggests that what follows will provide the content of these conversations. a weakening. on the other hand. . [But the consul did not go over there. he immediately assembled the gentlemen desiring billiards around himself. and this is the case Bally no doubt had in mind when he spoke of ‘‘free indirect style. Lebrecht Kröger STAYED with the ladies. . . lagen in den Fenstern. On the other side. . ‘‘You don’t want to risk a game. . a muffling of the direct form.] 49: . . that what is reported is not merely stated but that it is really so. but Justus COULD go back. To give an example: Buddenbrooks [vol.Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 513 zufrieden. sondern versammelte sofort die billiardlustigen Herren um sich. an approach to the indirect form. .] 47: Aber der Konsul ging nicht erst hinüber. while blieb is in the indicative: apparently it is not merely speech. who would not . Thomas Buddenbrooks neues Haus. [. Vater?’’ Nein. Thomas Buddenbrook’s new house grew. . . It serves on occasion to express more than direct speech: namely. Kein Gesprächsstoff in der Stadt. the inhabitants of the gabled houses. it BECAME the most beautiful house anywhere! WERE there more beautiful ones for instance in Hamburg? . ‘‘Sie wollen keine Partie riskieren. es WURDE das schönste Haus weit und breit! GAB es etwa in Hamburg schönere? . .’’ To give an example of this case: Buddenbrooks [vol. . . . and the old consul would certainly not HAVE gone so far. .] I. and the word tip-top makes us certain that it is not a matter of the reflections of the author. father?’’ No. [p. it stands below direct speech. . . [p. and over roomy cellars . . It HAD to be terribly expensive. der anziehender gewesen wäre! Es WURDE tip-top. Die Nachbarn. die Bürgersleute in den Giebelhäusern. but könne is in the conditional. . . proving that it is indirect speech. aber Justus KÖNNE ja nach hinten gehen. speech in the imperfect stands above direct speech . There was no subject of conversation more attractive in the city! It BECAME tip-top. MUSSTE aber auch verzweifelt teuer sein.’’ So the opinion that our construction represents something between direct and indirect discourse is well-founded: on the one hand. und über geräumigen Kellern erwuchs . our imperfect can express a less. (3) direct speech: ‘‘Ich BIN nicht zufrieden. were at their windows. . Lebrecht Kröger BLIEB bei den Damen. . und der alte Konsul HÄTTE solche Sprünge sicherlich nicht gemacht.] II.

I will try to distinguish carefully between the categories developed above of ‘‘More than direct speech’’ and ‘‘Less than direct speech. [p. by exaggeration or avoidance. . as we learned earlier. the imperfect is used to make the question into something repeated rather than something unique and special: [vol. dass du wenigstens diese weisst. Friederike Overdieck. fish. water.] 343: Für Thomas Buddenbrook selbst war dieses Stück Welt am Hafen. the direct form is not necessary. and the modern novel has become too dramatic for that. Fischen. not only in Buddenbrooks. . . here. this piece of the world at the port. In doing so. zwischen Schiffen.’’ and that is why I will compare it in what follows not with indirect but with direct style.] II. it is a matter of insignificant persons.’’. . und da Freude und Teilnahme daran sich bei seinem Sohne von selbst nicht äusserten. so musste er darauf bedacht sein. however. the persons are known. Nun. and if our imperfect has the third person in common with indirect speech.’’ To this belong. . the newest fashionable word imported from Hamburg into the Lübeck world at that time. . as already mentioned. tip-top is rather. Halmstadt . Or else. Wasser. In its place we find therefore the imperfect of discourse and direct speech for the expression of greater liveliness. . . and moreover. because it would have nothing that would characterize the consul in any way. die mit Kopenhagen VERKEHRTEN? Najaden . von Klein auf der liebste und interessanteste Aufenthalt gewesen. wo es nach Butter. therefore it is the neighbors who make these remarks. it is more opposed than related to indirect speech. tar. among ships. . Wie HIESSEN nun die Dampfer. little Hanno. and to characterize them would be simply useless. where it smelled of butter. . das ist schon etwas. . Thus when Thomas Buddenbrook addresses the question how the steamships are called that go to Copenhagen to his son. . That is why the conversation is not given in direct speech. by interjected favorite words or phrases. It is clear why the author does not report these conversations in direct speech: direct speech serves in the novel to characterize the speaking person by his speech. . Let us start with ‘‘Less than direct speech. sie zu wecken. and warehouses. Teer and geöltem Eisen roch. its affiliation with direct speech is more important where the stylistic value is concerned. . but their conversation is so typical and colorless that the author does not think it deserves being given in direct speech. . sheds. the conversations of typical. . and oily . by the construction of his sentences. colorless persons. That is why I did not want to name it ‘‘free indirect style.514 Poetics Today 26:3 under any circumstances use such a showy word in his epic representation. . But why not in indirect speech? Indirect speech is no longer attractive to newer authors . . [For Thomas Buddenbrook himself. . Schuppen und Speichern. . but in the modern novel generally: it signifies the appearance of a summarizing author. mein Junge.

[p. my boy. und davon waren Alle überzeugt. tells is.] I. . that you at least know these. the friend of little Hanno Buddenbrook. The already mentioned answer of Lebrecht Kröger exemplifies this: [vol.] II. [p.] 340: Und Kai fuhr fort zu erzählen. father?’’ No. Eine . Lebrecht Kröger stayed with the ladies. Halmstadt . Sie würden etwa zwei Monate abwesend sein. . The wonderful adventure that the young Kai Graf Mölln. Vater?’’ Nein. das hübsche kleine Haus in der Breitenstrasse bereit machen.They would be absent about two months.] 47: ‘‘Sie wollen keine Partie riskieren. where it seemingly did not matter very much for the characterization of the person concerned whether they were given in direct speech or in the imperfect. . meanwhile Antonie was to prepare . introduced by a durfte man ihm glauben. Durfte man ihm glauben. Oh. Oh. .] I. Lebrecht Kröger blieb bei den Damen. [‘‘You don’t want to risk a game. . and since joy and participation in it did not show themselves in his son on their own. so war er vor einiger Zeit bei schwüler Nacht und in unkenntlicher Gegend einen schlüpfrigen und unermesslich tiefen Abhang hinabgeglitten. he had to think of awakening them. . but then the rest is given as fact throughout: [vol. .’’] We come to the category ‘‘More than direct speech. . Tony WÜRDE das schon zur Zufriedenheit ausführen! ‘‘Ihr sollt es vornehm haben’’ sagte sie. . to be sure. that’s something after all. ‘‘Well. aus dem mit hohl glucksendem Geräusch unaufhörlich silberblanke Blasen aufstiegen. Now how were the steamships CALLED that WENT to Copenhagen? Najaden . .Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 515 iron. [Gerda and Thomas agreed on a route through Northern Italy to Florence. Tony WOULD accomplish this to everyone’s satisfaction! ‘‘You will have elegant quarters’’ she said. . aber Justus könne ja nach hinten gehen. .] 425: Gerda aud Thomas wurden sich einig über eine Route durch Oberitalien nach Florenz. the pretty little house in the Breitenstrasse.] So does this passage: [vol. unterdessen sollte Antonie . but Justus could go back.] Tony says that she would take care of it well.’’ where our imperfect simultaneously serves to represent what is said and what is really happening. . . Frederike Over-dieck. When the author renounces the means of characterization through direct speech in a longer passage. and everyone was convinced of this. the imperfect becomes more conspicuous. Up until now my examples dealt with short utterances. had been the favorite and most interesting place to stop since he was little. [p. and with her love for ‘‘furnishing’’ one can be sure that she will really do it. an dessen Fusse er im fahlen und flackernden Schein von Irrlichtern ein schwarzes Sumpfwasser gefunden hatte.

es WAR da. However. as often as it had exploded. nahe dem Ufer. . Swearing was no good. gefahrvollen Bemühungen mit der Hand zu erhaschen verstanden. . . dangerous efforts. had with its help gone up the steep and slippery slope again. whereupon it ceased exploding and instead let itself be put on his finger as a smooth and firm ring. and this he had managed to catch with his hand after long. . without ironizing it. beständig wiedergekehrt war. . . and these examples apparently belong to the category ‘‘Less than direct speech. If one was to believe him. He WAS hardly ABLE to guide his glassful of rum to his mouth without spilling half of it. all this is not true.] 219: Tony betrachtete die grauen Giebelhäuser. . his pit WAS shoveled. der mit Recht diesem Ringe ungewöhnliche Eigenschaften zugetraut hatte. er könne zu den Glücklichen gehören. : Herrn Gosch GING es schlecht. as has been said. which returned incessantly close to the shore. alles das WAR geblieben wie es gewesen war! Es HATTE hier gestanden. Da nützte kein Fluchen. seine Grube WAR geschaufelt.] Of course. wie gesagt. had the form of a circle. he had some time ago slid down a slippery and immeasurably deep slope in a stifling night and in an unknown region. so MACHTE der Teufel seinen Arm zittern. war mit seiner Hilfe den steilen und schlüpfrigen Abhang wieder emporgelangt. die über die Strasse gespannten Öllampen. . The arduousness of old age APPROACHED. the author does use irony when he presents the speeches of agent Gosch in the form of facts . . . Mit einer schönen und grossen Armbewegung wies er die Annahme zurück. so oft sie zersprungen. MEIN GOTT. With a lovely and great movement of his arm he rejected the supposition that he could belong to the happy ones. . But he. and a pedant would therefore have chosen the indirect form. out of which silvery bubbles rose incessantly with a hollow. . [vol. gurgling sound. .] In this manner the author ironizes the complaints of the businessman. who had rightly attributed unusual characteristics to this ring. [And Kai continued to narrate. Das beschwerliche Greisenalter NAHTE heran. Er aber. [Herr Gosch WAS badly off.’’ . But our imperfect is not merely used for spoken words but also for unspoken thoughts. Er KONNTE abends kaum noch sein Glas Grog zum Munde führen. it WAS present.] I. . however. Thomas Mann chose the imperfect in order to represent the liveliness of the childish fantasy . worauf sie nicht mehr zerplatzt war. [p. das Heilige Geist-Hospital mit den fast schon entblätterten Linden davor.516 Poetics Today 26:3 aber davon. One of them. die. to such an extent DID the devil MAKE his arm tremble. . und diese hatte er nach langen. hatte die Form eines Ringes gehabt. ohne die Hälfte zu verschütten. . sondern sich als glatter und fester Reif hatte an den Finger stecken lassen. at the foot of which he had found a black bog-water in the pale and flickering gleam of will-o’the wisps.

and the indirect form would mean a stepping back of the characters and a stepping forward of the author that is avoided for good reasons in the modern novel. . während sie sich daran als einen alten. . the Holy Ghost Hospital with its already almost leafless linden trees in front of it. . WARUM hatte er gelogen? WAR es nicht beständig als hätte er seinem Übelbefinden gegenüber ein schlechtes Gewissen? Warum? Warum? . I have chosen two out of an unusual profusion of examples given by Lerch for the use of the imperfect for expressing unspoken thoughts. .Cohn • Early Discussions of Free Indirect Style 517 unabänderlich und ehrwürdig. 4. . . sie sah sich neugierig um.] 129: Es war nicht wahr. she looked about curiously. [Tony watched the gray gabled houses. WHY had he lied? WAS it not constantly as though he had a bad conscience toward his feeling bad? Why? Why? . while she remembered it as a dream worthy of being forgotten! These gray gables WERE the old. he does not indicate this with a single syllable. he does not surpass them in intelligence. unchangeable and honorable. . his absorption in his characters. Sie weinte nicht mehr. darüber nachzudenken. this uncertain sorrow weigh on him. Aber es war jetzt keine Zeit. He was only tired and felt again. Er war nur müde und fühlte wieder. . . das sie wiederaufgenommen und in dem sie nun wieder leben sollte. Gewohnte. the oil lamps reaching over the street.] II. . the traditional. when the first morning peace of the nerves had hardly gone away. But this was not the time to think about it. More and more it is replaced by the imperfect of discourse that thus can be seen in a larger frame: it is related to progress of narrative technique. dass er Kopfschmerzen hatte. . She did not cry any more. . . Überlieferte. . . the accustomed. . [p. which had included her again and in which she was now to live again. . Our imperfect of speech and thought is thus a part of the retreat of the author. . he is in no sense omniscient. . his surrender. vergessenswerten Traum erinnert hatte! Diese grauen Giebel WAREN das Alte. which critics have called (I don’t know why) cold and heartless: the direct form will not do in all places. kaum dass der erste Morgenfriede der Nerven vorbei. .] 4 The author disappears almost completely. [It was not true that he had a headache. Even where he is apparently not in agreement with his characters. MY GOD. He does not reign like a god over his creatures. diesen unbestimmten Gram auf sich lasten.] [vol. all this HAD remained as it had been! It HAD stood here.

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