Alan Shapiro: Technique of Empathy: Free Indirect Style (January 2011)
Alan Shapiro characterizes Free Indirect Style as one which enables writers to move between intimacy and distance in narration. Drawing on close readings of “The Mill” by E.A. Robinson, “Donahue’s Sister” and “Slow Waker” by Thom Gunn, and “A Fantasy” by Louise Glück, he looks at how that these poems intertwine the narrative voice with contrasting perspectives of characters within the poem. Shapiro concludes that Free Indirect Style urges us “to consider being someone else” while at the same time suggesting the limitations of empathic understanding.