The corpus stylistic analysis of fiction – or the fiction of corpus stylistics?

Corpus Linguistics and Variation in English

Abstract

This paper argues that corpus stylistics can contribute methodologies and concepts to support the investigation of character information in fiction. Focusing on Charles Dickens, the paper looks at lexicogrammatical patterns as well as places in the literary text. It suggests that clusters, i.e. repeated sequences of words, and suspensions, i.e. interruptions of characters’ speech by the narrator, can serve as textual cues in the process of characterization. These concepts are illustrated with examples for the characters Bucket and Tulkinghorn in Bleak House. The analysis of the examples leads to an outline of challenges for corpus stylistics that result from the need to interpret features on the textual surface in relation to the effects they might have on the processing of the text by readers.1

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