When I was a little girl I filled hours narrating my life to myself in a ceaseless interior monologue. I was always a third-person character in these narratives—“Then she cast a withering glance at her teacher and, holding her head high, swept from the room.” I viewed my every action from the vantage point of an astonished, admiring, detached observer. But as I grew older, I began to develop a vague uneasiness about this sort of unremitting narration of my life inside my head.

I don’t really know what caused the narrating urge. Although my family was by no means a literary one, I suppose that whatever exposure I had to story-telling, whether gossip, reminiscences, Bible reading, or outright lying, might have fostered the narrative impulse. That does not explain it fully, however. I do not know how widespread this phenomenon is among children nor how late it is likely to persist into adulthood. Nor do I know whether other children are as adept at concealing it as I was.

I do have a somewhat clearer idea of why I ousted the narrator from my mind. It happened when I realized that this was not what was going on inside other people’s heads, and what is more, that if they knew it was going on inside mine they would find it queer to say the least, and very probably disagreeable as well. And, too, I began to find that I wanted room for more in there than simply this voice reading (or writing) my life away. I wanted to stuff in algebraic equations and logical syllogisms, Icelandic saga, recipes, songs, and the imprint of important pictures. To concentrate on this, I needed to shut down the voice and concentrate. It was, after all, a relief not to have it harping away, describing my every movement to myself. At various times, primarily ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.

Tags:
Issue: