Construing the child reader:a cognitive stylistic analysis of the opening to Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book


Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2009) charts the story of Nobody Owens, a boy who is adopted by supernatural entities in the local graveyard after his family is murdered. This article draws on the notion of the “construed reader,” and combines two cognitive stylistic frameworks to analyse the opening section of the novel. In doing so, the article explores the representation and significance of the family home in relation to what follows in the narrative. The analysis largely draws on Text World Theory (Werth, 1999; Gavins, 2007), but also integrates some aspects of Cognitive Grammar (Langacker, 2008), which allows for a more nuanced discussion of textual features. The article pays particular attention to the way Gaiman frames his narrative and positions his reader to view the fictional events from a distinctive vantage point and subsequently demonstrates that a stylistic analysis of children’s literature can lay bare how such writing is designed with a young readership in mind.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: ?? 53981500Jl ??
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities > Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA)
College of Business and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences & Humanities
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2016. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Publication ISSN: 1573-1693
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2024 07:20
Date Deposited: 19 Apr 2017 11:40
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2018-06-01
Published Online Date: 2016-06-04
Accepted Date: 2016-06-04
Authors: Giovanelli, Marcello (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-8470-3800)



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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