British Journal of Canadian Studies

Loss and longing in Alice Munro's ‘Queenie’

British Journal of Canadian Studies (2014), 27, (1), 21–36.

Abstract

This article is a close reading of Alice Munro's ‘Queenie’, principally using the tools of narratology and literary linguistics. I argue that the story illustrates many hallmarks of Munro's art, such as temporal disruption, nuances in narrative dynamism, meticulous attention to character idiolect, indeterminacy and ambiguity. However, it is in addition distinguished by passages of writing that are exceptional in their emotional intensity, and in the extent to which they consequently engage the reader. These passages (those that linguist Michael Toolan would describe as ‘emotionally immersive’) are identifiable and made salient by various grammatical and stylistic means. I argue that these are orchestrated in order to heighten the sense of loss, longing and abandonment in the narrative, making it an especially affecting reading experience.

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Duncan, Isla