What is Authorial Intrusion

What is Authorial Intrusion

Authorial Intrusion is a literary technique where the author directly addresses the readers. It establishes a relationship between the reader and writer. It is important to notice that books with omniscient narrators are technically authorial intrusive. But in books written from a first person or third person perspective, the author’s voice serves as an intrusion. Thus, this voice is called the authorial intrusion. In these stories, the narrator narrates and describes the setting, characters and plot and the author intrudes to make some comments or observations.

This literary device was very popular until the 20th century. Many famous authors like Charlotte Brontë, Leo Tolstoy, and George Eliot used this device in their novels. Authorial intrusion in a novel can appear in different methods. The author can make a comment about a character, or an incident. Author’s comment about an incident, especially one that is to happen in the future can be an example of authorial intrusion. For example, consider the clause ‘the Fieldings had no real knowledge of the tragedy that awaited them..’ Here, the author hints at a tragic event that is yet to happen. Sometimes writers also insert their own ideas about certain philosophies and theories. Authorial intrusion is also used to provide added information or to draw readers’ attention to a certain concept or incident.

While authorial intrusion is a literary device used by many prominent writers, the unintentional authorial intrusion is considered to be a blunder made by many amateur writers.

Examples of Authorial Intrusion

Inigo was in Despair. Hard to find on the map (this was after maps) not because cartographers didn’t know of its existence, but because when they visited to measure its precise dimensions, they became so depressed they began to drink and question everything, most notably why would anyone want to be something as stupid as a cartographer? It required constant travel, no one ever knew your name, and, most of all, since wars were always changing boundaries, why bother? There grew up, then, a gentleman’s agreement among mapmakers of the period to keep the place as secret as possible, lest tourists flock there and die. (Should you insist on paying a visit, it’s closer to the Baltic states than most places.)

The Princess Bride, William Goldman.

“Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agised as in that hour left my lips: for never may you, like me, dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.”

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë.

 What is Authorial Intrusion

Charlotte Bronte

An American near Billy wailed that he had excreted everything but his brains. Moments later he said, ‘There they go, there they go.’ He meant his brains.
That was I. That was me. That was the author of this book.

. – Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

…. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.

– The gift of the Magi by O. Henry

Image Courtesy:

Charlotte Bronte By J. H. Thompson – Bronte Parsonage Museum, (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia 

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