Do You Read Me? Metaphor as a Pathway to the Conceptualisation of Literary Identity


  • Julia Vaeßen
  • Timo Lothmann



Establishing coherent identity patterns for literary characters in novels is a difficult task. In this respect, we assume that readers rely on pre-stored cultural models in order to construct mental models of the text content, including character identity. By significantly extending the approach by Van Dijk and Kintsch and going beyond the related accounts of Schneider and of Culpeper, we aim to clarify the constitutive role of conceptual metaphor as proposed by Lakoff et al. in processes of literary identity construction. The analysis of a corpus of three contemporary novels supports our claim that conceptual metaphors and the mapping of domains involved interact with cultural models and connect text phenomena to such prior knowledge structures. On this basis, we provide an integrated model of literary identity construction which acknowledges the constitutive value of conceptual metaphors in literary identity construction.