Stephen Donaldson Analysis Part Three – Evaluation and References

I believe that the main aims of the project have been at least partly achieved because of what has emerged in the findings section. Specifically the following ideas:

(a)    The use of modifier complexes (by the author) to intensify an event in the text

(b)   The use of metaphor (by the author) as a reference device at least partly to create lexical cohesion

(c)    The emergence of the how the author uses synonymy and repetition to focus the text on a character or an event.

(d)   How a single metaphoric lexis is used by the author throughout the text rather than just locally in one sentence. Although this may appear as a repetition of point (c), it is not as specific and draws attention to the fact of how the author has spread that metaphorical lexis across the text not just used it as a reference device.

(e)    How the author has limited himself to a few specific foci and how these were demonstrated through the analysis of the lexical and reference chains.

All of the aforementioned specifically meet at least some of the aims of the project. From amongst those aims I would say that the following have been met:


  • “In what specific way has the writing style of novelist Stephen Donaldson changed since he started writing his series of novels known as ‘The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever?’”
    • Whilst we know there have been some changes, such as the use of modifier complexes near the end of a text instead of the start, we cannot say for sure if these were deliberate. But that doesn’t negate that we have come to know that the grammatical style of the author is different in text 2 as compared to text 1.


    • What are the specific grammatical features of this stylistic change?


    • We are now aware of some of those features i.e. the different ways that modifier complexes can be positioned in a text to affect the reader experience.


  • Can we create a model of how the author writes?
    • Hillier (Coffin et al, 2003) demonstrated that Dickens used postmodification of nouns to affect the reader experience and I believe that my project has confirmed that Donaldson has acted similarly. Based on the aforementioned I would postulate that at least a partial model can be constructed and at the least, the concepts that have emerged in my findings can be immediately made applicable if someone should choose to utilise them in their writing.

After some retrospection I believe that it is possible to include a wider register analysis using more analysis techniques to gain more of an insight into the changes in Donaldson’s writing style.

With the specific aim in mind to track a writer’s stylistic changes, future studies can include more texts from the author not just the first and the last in a series. Using more of the texts in between could provide insight into intermediary changes in the author’s style.


Biber, D., Conrad, S. and Leech, G. (2002) Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English, London, Pearson.
Coffin, C., Hewings, A. And O’Halloran, K. (2004) Applying English Grammar: Functional and Corpus Approaches, London, Arnold.
Donaldson, S., (2010), accessed 01/09/2010
E303 Units 1-7: (2006) Book 2: Getting Started – Describing the grammar of speech and writing. Milton Keynes, The Open University.
E303 Units 8-11: (2006) Book 3: Getting Inside English – Interpreting texts. Milton Keynes, The
Open University.
O’Halloran, K., Wynne, M., (2007) Corpus Tasks (UK), The Open University.

, , , , ,