The Poetics of Subliminal Awareness

24 Pages Posted: 5 Apr 2013

Date Written: 2001


The Poetics of Subliminal Awareness: Re-Reading Intention and Narrative Structure in Nabokov's 'Christmas Story':

This paper puts forward a theory of the integration of the various levels of communicative interaction in literary texts, ranging from the activation of proxemic elements at the action level, to the interaction between author and reader, as well as their textualized images. The paper shows how a given stylistic practice, Nabokov's in The Christmas Story, is able to exploit, for highly elaborate communicative purposes, the complex integration into a semiotic continuum of these multiple levels of representation. This thesis is sustained with a detailed argumentation which takes into account the actual reception of the work, and the way in which this reception evidences the author's stylistic technique, consisting in the calculated subliminal activation of specific reading paths (intertextual associations, creation of local memories, etc.). The paper also suggests a possible relationship between the reflexive structures of narrative and some specific modes of neurological processing associated to the generation of conscious phenomena.

Full version. A shortened version was published in European Journal of English Studies 8.1 (2004).

Keywords: Narratology, Christmas, Subliminal perception, Awareness, Cognitive poetics, Nabokov, Narrative communication, Narrative

Suggested Citation

Garcia Landa, Jose Angel, The Poetics of Subliminal Awareness (2001). Available at SSRN: or

Jose Angel Garcia Landa (Contact Author)

Universidad de Zaragoza ( email )

Gran Via 2
Zaragoza, 50005


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