Authorial Intrusion

Authorial Intrusion is an interesting literary device wherein the author penning the story, poem or prose steps away from the text and speaks out to the reader. Authorial Intrusion establishes a one to one relationship between the writer and the reader where the latter is no longer a secondary player or an indirect audience to the progress of the story but is the main subject of the author’s attention.

In many olden novels, especially in suspense novels, the protagonist would move away from the stream of the story and speak out to the reader. This technique was often used to reveal some crucial elements of the story to the reader even though the protagonist might remain mystified within the story for the time being.

18 thoughts on “Authorial Intrusion”

  1. Someone already commented on Victor Hugo doing this in Hunchback; here’s a fun example from Les Misérables. He’s sharing a dialogue between Cosette and the elderly maid who has a speech impediment. To this point in the book, he’s indicated her stuttering when quoting her. Now he inserts a parenthetical statement to the reader: “(We have noticed once for all Toussaint’s stammering. Let us be permitted to indicate it no longer. We dislike the musical notation of an infirmity.)”

  2. I think Leif Enger’s novel “Peace Like a River” uses this technique.I found it very moving in the context of this particular book, told from the perspective of both a young boy and his adult self.

  3. in the context of comic books, it is referenced as breaking the fourth wall, when a character in the panel or storyline addresses the reader

  4. This term ‘Authorial Intrusion’ sounds like a slam…is there another term/phrase to describe when the author jumps into the story and adds his two cents then leaves and the reader is left with the characters to finish the novel?

  5. “Mr. B. Gone” by Clive Barker was much like this. The main character of the novel regularly speaks directly to the reader telling us to burn the book, to stop reading the book, etc. in an attempt to make it a touch more realistic, as if the book is inhabited by the character.

  6. Victor Hugo uses it a lot in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, as he describes the Parisian architecture of the 15th century – ”If the reader allows me, I will proceed …” etc.

  7. I read a book which, at the end of one chapter, would say: “I hope you flip the page.” And the next chapter would say: “Phew, you flipped the page.”

    1. Oh, I remember that book. It was a children’s book. But wasn’t that “Whatever you do, dont turn the page!” I think it was Grover from Sesame Street… Theres a Monster at the End of this Book.

  8. The short story “How to Transform an Everyday Ordinary Hoop Court into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium” by Matt de la Pena is another example of authorial Intrusion.

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