Mind, Your Own Business: The Use of Psychic Distance in Cultivating Authorial Omniscience

Bradley Parrigin


Psychic distance, that is, the distance the reader feels between himself and the story or character, is just one tool that an author has when seeking a reader’s engagement.  However, it is an important tool because managing psychic distance deftly rewards both author and reader and mismanagement can seriously impair the reader’s enjoyment.  A number of contemporary dystopian novels employ some form of third-person omniscience to various effects.  Of these texts, I will analyze four of them to review both traditional and non-traditional uses of psychic distance and to comment on the relative success of each text in achieving the desired effect.  This paper applies quantitative methods to the samples under scrutiny in order to quantify the dynamics at play.



McCarthy; Chabon; Brockmeier; Whitehead; Statistics; Narrative Perspective

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Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature