“Lazy reading” and “half-formed things”: indeterminacy and responses to Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing

Clark, Billy (2019) “Lazy reading” and “half-formed things”: indeterminacy and responses to Eimear McBride’s A Girl Is A Half-formed Thing. In: Pragmatics and Literature. Linguistic Approaches to Literature (35). John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp. 139-164. ISBN 9789027204448, 9789027261922

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1075/lal.35.07cla


This chapter considers how ideas developed within relevance theory can be applied in accounting for different kinds of responses to Eimear McBride’s novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing. The discussion here focuses on the opening of the novel, using this to illustrate difficulties posed for readers by the novel as a whole and to consider how different ways of responding to these difficulties can lead to different kinds of responses.
McBride’s novel is a challenging text which raises issues for pragmatic theories as well as for readers, since it is hard to establish what it explicitly and implicitly communicates. Some readers (including, significantly, some critics and judges for literary awards) have responded positively to the novel. Others (including many literary agents and publishers) have responded negatively. Some readers report beginning with a negative reaction and then becoming more positive. This chapter suggests that ideas developed within relevance theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1986; 2015) can help us to understand how texts differ as well as how readers respond differently to specific texts, including McBride’s novel.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This chapter is under copyright of John Benjamins Publishing Company and the publisher should be contacted for permission to re-use or reprint the material in any form.
Subjects: Q100 Linguistics
Q200 Comparative Literary studies
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
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Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 30 May 2019 08:14
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 20:16
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/39422

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