Cohesive harmony and theme in Peter Carey's 'The last days of a famous mime'

Martin Tilney

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    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Peter Carey’s ‘The last days of a famous mime’ is a short story that presents interpretative challenges. It hangs together as a text, but this coherence is minimal and has an important rhetorical effect that draws attention to the story’s literary meaning. This effect becomes the departure point for a linguistic analysis of the text, which aims to guide an interpretation of the story by focusing on the ways in which textual meanings are construed. Drawing on the systemic functional model of language, the text is analysed from the angles of cohesive harmony and theme. The analysis highlights a low degree of coherence as a central meaning, both at the level of discourse and within the fictional world. This finding leads to the interpretation of the text as a statement on the importance of social and emotional validation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3-20
    Number of pages18
    JournalLanguage and Literature
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018

    Bibliographical note

    Martin Tilney is a PhD scholar at Macquarie University researching in the area of systemic func- tional linguistics and stylistics. He also has a background in applied linguistics, specializing in English language teaching. His research interests are chiefly the literary semantics of modern short stories, but also include applied linguistics (especially EAP and critical discourse analysis) and Australian literature. His current project focuses on systemic functional linguistics and the short fiction of Peter Carey.


    • cohesion
    • coherence
    • cohesive harmony
    • interpretation
    • Peter Carey
    • stylistics
    • `The last days of a famous mime’
    • theme


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