What is the literary term for a novel that does not have any dividing sections such as chapters or paragraphs? There may still be punctuation. I am thinking of something like Will Self's Phone.

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    Welcome to Literature Stack Exchange! I hope someone will be able to answer your question. However, literary critics don't have a term for every literary phenomenon. Or, as Ronald Langacker said, "I can think of a unicorn with daisies growing out of its nostrils, but I don't need a name for it." ;-)
    – Tsundoku
    Sep 15, 2018 at 12:14
  • I do remember hearing someone use a term for this. I just can't remember what it was :) I suspect also there will be one out there somewhere as it's a fairly well-established style. Sep 15, 2018 at 14:13
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    I don't know the term, but Becket's Malloy is comprised of just two chapters and the first of those is a single paragraph of 76 pages (1,518 lines). The term that comes to mind is "unreadable". Having said that, it's a genuinely great novel! Sep 15, 2018 at 15:16
  • Are you actually looking for a term for a novel or for a narrative technique?
    – Tsundoku
    Feb 24, 2023 at 20:49

1 Answer 1


Looking at Will Self's Phone, it seems the answer is "stream of consciousness", or "stream-of-fractured-consciousness" as the linked review calls it, instead of whatever term would describe the books asked about in Examples for books that don't use (traditional) chapters?

it seems no one's made a specific literary term for the lack of chapters, otherwise I'd expect people talking about the Discworld series to use it. So, "stream of consciousness" is likely the best we're gonna get for talking about ''Phone''.

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    Stream of consciousness covers much more than that, though, because it can be used with chapters
    – Mary
    Mar 27, 2023 at 0:52
  • @Mary - Yeah, but it seems no one's made a specific literary term for the lack of chapters, otherwise I'd expect people talking about Discworld to use it?
    – Malady
    Mar 27, 2023 at 2:41
  • And Discworld, come to that, is clearly not stream of consciousness.
    – Mary
    Mar 27, 2023 at 3:12
  • @Mary - Yeah, but all we have to go on is Questioner mentioning about "Phone". Good thing there was a review for "Phone" that talked about its style. ... And if any review has found a term to talk about Discworld's lack of chapters, I'm not seeing it. ... I guess this answer is sort of a Frame Challenge? ... EDIT: Just noticed "Lack of Paragraphs", makes me think of "Wall of text".
    – Malady
    Mar 27, 2023 at 12:56

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