Means Of Creating Suggestive Impressionist Text


The article is devoted to certain aspects of literary impressionism. Surprisingly, impressionism as an artistic direction turned out to be in tune with texts of modern writers. The relevance of this direction manifests itself both in means of artistic information presentation and its styling. The authors consider both general theoretical and practical issues that reveal main aspects of critical debate about literary impressionism, verbal suggestiveness and suggestive strategies of an impressionist text. The novelty of this research is in the fact that suggestiveness is defined as a special feature of impressionistic poetics, and the means of creating a suggestive effect of impressionist texts are described. The mechanisms of realizing suggestiveness are analyzed using the text of the impressionist story ‘La demande’ by the modern French writer Michelle Desbordes. The suggestive potential of this text lies in the fact that the narrative is constructed based on free associations that cause a specific emotional response in the reader. Main ways to create suggestiveness in the impressionist work are specific lexical fields used to create the atmosphere, landscape descriptions that are a direct reflection of the inner world of characters, syntactic parallelism, and, mostly, various types of repetitions. All these means have an obvious suggestive effect, creating a certain general mood, prompting the reader to perceive described events by a certain way, inviting to co-creation.

Keywords: Impressionist text, literary impressionism, means of creating suggestiveness, repetition, suggestiveness


1.1. Impressionism in literature

Impressionism as an artistic phenomenon enriched not only world pictorial art, but also philosophy, literature, music, sculpture of both its time and later periods, up to the modern time. According to the French tradition, the concept of literary impressionism (impressionnisme littéraire) was introduced into scientific use by Ferdinand Brunetiere in 1889. The critical debate about literary impressionism is not weakened but, on the contrary, becomes increasingly acute year to year (Armstrong, 2021; Demchenko, 2019; Fried, 2018; Kimber, 2018; Matz, 2001; Philippe, 2019; Saunders, 2017; Saunders, 2018; Vouilloux, 2019, 2020). No doubt, such a situation is associated with a certain vagueness of the literary impressionism concept, due to which it is rather difficult to clearly define this concept (in contrast to painting).

There are several interpretations of literary impressionism. They include the following directions:

  • Direct association of pictorial impressionism with literary one through the choice of subjects and techniques;
  • Consideration of literary impressionism as a transitional artistic movement from realism to modernism;
  • A specific stylistic method (technique) which allows combining subjective direct observations (not dependent on logical schemes) into a single artistic picture.

Demchenko (2019) describes the following characteristics of literary impressionism:

  • Absence of a clearly defined form, narrative fragmentation, increased role of chance, attention to details which are captured as if at random;
  • “Philosophy of the moment” focuses on the value of the first impression, trembling and picturesque twinkling of mood nuances, which causes a sophisticated technique of verbal expressiveness;
  • Vagueness and ambiguity of subjective sensations, elusiveness and inexpressibility of which have as their consequences understatement, the poetics of hints and omissions.

To impressionism modern literature owes a new stylistic technique of description of not the object (event) itself but the sensation (impression) caused by it, as well as a wide use of descriptions of inner psychological states of the person, landscape descriptions, in order to convey the character’s mood. Therefore, the attempts to clarify the very definition of literary impressionism, and its time frame, as well as the used ways of artistic descriptions continue. Also, various characteristics of impressionist texts, including suggestiveness, are analyzed. The latter still requires detailed study on the basis of artistic texts, including impressionistic ones, which determines a scientific relevance of the present work.

1.2. Suggestiveness in literature

The term or (from Latin which means,,) was borrowed by literary criticism from English esthetics in the 18th century. There is an active interest in the study of the suggestive potential of various types of discourse: political, advertising, medical, artistic (Kiklewicz, 2020). Also, literary scholars include the concept of subtext into the term of suggestiveness. Subtext means the second (and subsequent) plan(s) of a literary work, as well as “instilling” a certain emotion, mood into the reader (Krishna, 1987).

Among the main linguistic means of creating suggestiveness, there are tropes and speech figures, as well as specific lexical fields and landscape descriptions. Suggestiveness is manifested both at a micro- and macro-linguistic level. Most researchers note the suggestive potential of rhythm and repetitions within the micro-linguistic level. At the level of lexis and syntax there are comparisons (parallelism, assimilation, analogy), metaphors, personification, enumeration of constituent parts of objects, appeal to nature elements, etc. At the macro-linguistic level, the following important categories are observed: modality, structural and compositional text organization, stylistic features. The landscape is one of the key elements of an impressionistic work, it becomes a sense-forming element and plays a psychological and esthetic function (Kalba, 2012). According to the volume and arrangement in the text, the following types are distinguished: contour or dashed landscape (a brief description to which the author addresses once), dispersive dashed landscape (some dashed descriptions related to one feature), compact descriptive landscape (presented by one volumetric text unit), dispersive descriptive landscape (a series of detailed descriptions passing through the whole narrative). Nature appears as an entire organism, it is integrated with the inner world of the protagonist and often similar to it.

Problem Statement

Research Questions

3.1. What does the suggestive potential of the impressionist text mean?

3.2. What are the means of creating suggestiveness in the French impressionist text?

Purpose of the Study

4.1. Define the impressionist text as a research object.

4.2. Present suggestive characteristics of the impressionist text.

4.3. Describe the means of creating suggestiveness based on the French impressionist text.

Research Methods

In order to solve the set research problems, we used methods of analysis of domestic and foreign scientific concepts related to the issues of literary impressionism and suggestiveness of an artistic text, methods of synthesis and description of analyzed scientific information. Also, we applied the method of textual analysis of linguistic means of creating impressiveness and suggestive potential in impressionist texts.


The impressionist literary work is characterized by the lack of a plot and causal associations, abundance of images, metaphors and metonymies, non-linear narrative, shortness (a genre of story), focus rather on the narrative style than on the plot, as well as an open end (Cedergren, 2019; Fried, 2018; Kimber, 2016). Impressionist authors predominantly develop plots in which it is advisable to avoid excessive straightforwardness. First of all, it is manifested in the concentration on the description of the inner world and psychological states of a person.

Suggestiveness is assumed to mean a certain latent verbal impact, the text elements that create a definite general mood, i.e., the literary suggestion can be considered as a separate pictorial impressive means that forms a compositional center of the work. In fiction literature, suggestiveness manifests itself by means of stylistic features. Impressionist texts suggest the reader the way of perceiving the events described, inviting to co-creation and stimulating the reader’s imagination.

Among contemporary French writes, Desbordes (1998) is singled out by critics who consider her to be an impressionist author. Her story ‘La demande’ served as factual material for our research. The monotonous life of a servant is reduced to a series of repeated events. The story reveals the range of feelings of the servant of the great scientist Leonardo Da Vinci through the description of her sensations caused by the surroundings. In her image, acute emotional tension is shown through a variety of shades of feelings conveyed by verbal means. In particular, artistic details emphasizing the appearance and social status of the servant help to create her portrait. The vagueness of the figurative picture created by verbal means causes the reader’s empathy and provokes them to independently interpret the text. Thus, there is no direct speech and names of the characters in the book. The entire story is narrated from the 3rd person and concentrates on revealing the images. In the story ‘La demande’, the emotional component noticeably prevails over the plot since the purpose is just to express feelings. The main technique of constructing the text is description. The used grammatical tenses, mainly Imparfait de l'indicatif, strengthen the reality illusion and slow down the narrative rhythm, which allows the author to reflect the panorama of feelings in more detail (Apothéloz, 2021; Philippe, 2019). The reader forms their individual perception based on the image created by the author.

The main means of creating the suggestiveness in the story is repetition. It is through this means that the unique style of Michelle Desbordes is formed. The repetition makes the text expressive, and allows for the placement of semantic dominants. It should be noted that it is the repetition that is one of the most important composition means in the work. There are contact and distance verbal repetitions as well as indirect semantic ones. The following thematic repetitions run through the whole narrative as a red thread: “la mort” (“death”), “il ne reviendrait pas” (“he will not return”), and others. Beginning from the first pages, the author creates the sharp contrast between the title ‘La demande’ and the semantic repetition which symbolically means quiet and silence. One of the dominant end-to-end distance repetitions is the phrase “sans rien dire” (“without saying anything”). In the story, it is met 29 times in various contexts. The following important manifestation of the servant’s is her gaze and portrait description. In this case, to create suggestiveness, the author uses the semantic repetition “Épaules basses et tête baissée, immobile…”, “les paupières baissées” (“Shoulders low and head lowered, motionless…”, “the eyelids lowered”) (Desbordes, 1998, p. 36).

It should be noted that landscape descriptions are very important to create suggestiveness. In this story, the author creates a narrative background and additionally immerses the reader in the atmosphere of events by means of landscapes. Moreover, according to the special features of the impressionistic style, the landscape works to reveal the inner world of characters and directly reflects their feelings and emotions (Hogan, 2010). For example, Desbordes (1998) describes the change of year seasons through the ascending gradation of landscape descriptions, which creates the effect of escalating events: “L’été s’installait, jour après jour ils admiraient la lumière, le bleu tranquille, brillant” (“Summer was setting in, day after day they admired the light, the quiet, brilliant blue”). The autumn time and wilting of nature reflect the inner world of the characters: «Il y eut une tristesse, la certitude qu'avec l'été autre chose s'achevait» («There was a sadness, the certainty that with the summer something else was coming to an end »). When the winter came, everything changed, including the behavior of the characters: «Ils entraient dans l’hiver, dans la tristesse» («They entered the winter, in the sadness») (Desbordes, 1998, p. 54).

All above repetitions lead to the culmination of the text when the servant spoke out. This moment is described with the help of indirect repetitions which create an expanded ascending gradation, the climax of which is the phrase: «plus que jamais elle se taisait, et le silence et le regard détourné parlait mieux que n’auraient fait les paroles» («more than ever she was silent, and the silence and the averted gaze spoke better than the words would have done»). So, developing the effect of contrast, the author resorts to the lexical repetition, focusing on the key moment of the whole story: «… parlait, parlait, avait-elle dans la somme des jours de sa vie jamais eu à prononcer tant de mots?... elle parlait à en mourir, elle mourrait de parler» («spoke, spoke, had she ever had to pronounce so many words in the sum of the days of her life? ... she spoke to death, she would die to speak») (Desbordes, 1998, р. 121). So, in this case the belonging of this work to impressionist texts with clearly expressed suggestive descriptive techniques is obvious.


The research allows us to draw the following conclusions:   

  • Although there is an obvious scientific interest in literary impressionism, we cannot speak about a unified approach to the definition of both the phenomenon itself, and the term designating it. Among the interpretations of literary impressionism we can distinguish, firstly, those that understand impressionism as a special literary direction (style), or those that interpret it as closely associated with the esthetics of impressionist painting.
  • Among the main specific features of literary impressionism there are descriptive speech type, predominance of minor genres (story), imagery, subjectivity, the absence of a plot, element (image, description, detail) repetitiveness, expressiveness. The main goal of the impressionist work is to reflect the first subjective impression caused by a certain event of heroes’ life.
  • When analyzing lexical means characteristic of impressionist texts, we should particularly note the use of abstract vocabulary and vocabulary with the semantics of sensory perception; linguistic units with various connotations, polysemantic words, synonymic rows.
  • Among the grammatical means, it worth noting the disruption of syntactic structure in terms of the simplification (ellipsis constructions, omissions, nominative sentences, parcellation) or the complication of syntactic relations (subordinate clauses of various types, rows of homogeneous members, inserted constructions) as well as the predominance of such a grammar tense as Imparfait de l'indicatif, the absence of direct speech, the narration from the 3rd person.
  • In the field of stylistic means we can distinguish the absence of a plot, slowed-down narrative rhythm, inner monologue, wide use of verbal synesthesia. Interrogative and exclamatory rhetoric constructions, repetitions, paranthesis and syntactic parallelism are frequent. Such texts abound in various means of artistic expressiveness. The analyzed fiction work ‘La demande’ by Michelle Desbordes fully meets the above numbered impressionist characteristics in both content and linguistic aspects.
  • I mpressionist works are characterized by a high degree of suggestiveness. The narrative is built on the basis of free associations that evoke a specific emotional response from the reader.
  • The main methods to create suggestiveness in the impressionist work are repetitions, syntactic parallelism, lexical fields, which are used to convey emotional atmosphere and national color, landscape descriptions reflecting the inner world of characters.

8. In her work ‘La demande’ Michelle Desbordes actively uses the suggestiveness techniques. Among them there are, first of all, various kinds of repetitions (thematic, lexical, syntactic). Also, the technique of describing emotional experiences of the characters through the description of nature phenomena and the surrounding landscape is typical. The understatement characteristic of the author’s style creates the atmosphere of co-creation with the reader, giving them opportunity to imagine what will be happening next.


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Sokolovskaya, J. V., & Zabotina, M. V. (2021). Means Of Creating Suggestive Impressionist Text. In D. Y. Krapchunov, S. A. Malenko, V. O. Shipulin, E. F. Zhukova, A. G. Nekita, & O. A. Fikhtner (Eds.), Perishable And Eternal: Mythologies and Social Technologies of Digital Civilization, vol 120. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 494-500). European Publisher.