Literary Linguistics
  • ISSN 2210-4119
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4127
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This study examines strategies that authors can use in texts to keep readers active and accurate participants in the literary conversation and sets forth a taxonomy of those strategies: initiating the literary conversation, anticipating, preventing and correcting possible misunderstandings, and keeping readers engaged as interlocutors. A case study on Burmese Days, by George Orwell, reveals a pattern of interactions between stated information and assumed knowledge. Orwell’s strategies indicate that he assumes that readers are competent, participatory readers (literary conversants), and he uses that assumption to convey locational information. Among these strategies are the following main categories: emphasizing closed-class semantics over open-class implicatures; providing more detail about more important information and less detail about less important information; reviewing the most important information from multiple perspectives; and perhaps most importantly, leaving some information for readers to infer. All of Orwell’s strategies assume the best about readers’ knowledge and willingness to participate and leave room for a pragmatically productive give-and-take that closely resembles conversation.


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