Modernist Soundscapes (Hardcover)

Auditory Technology and the Novel

By Angela Frattarola

University Press of Florida, 9780813056074, 204pp.

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

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Description

At the turn of the twentieth century, new technologies such as the phonograph, telephone, and radio changed how sound was transmitted and perceived. In Modernist Soundscapes, Angela Frattarola analyzes the influence of "the age of noise" on writers of the time, showing how modernist novelists used sound to bridge the distance between characters and to connect with the reader on a more intimate level. Frattarola tunes in to representations of voices, noise, and music in works by Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, Jean Rhys, and Samuel Beckett. She argues that the common use of headphones, which piped sounds from afar into a listener's headspace, inspired modernists to record the interior monologues of their characters in a stream-of-consciousness style. Woolf's onomatopoeia stemmed from a desire to render the sounds of the world without mediation, similar to how some contemporaries hoped that recording technology would eliminate the need for musicians. Frattarola also explains how Beckett's linguistic repetition mirrors the mechanical reproduction of the tape recorder. These writers challenged ocularcentrism, the traditional emphasis on vision in art and philosophy, and instead characterized the eye as distancing and analytical and the act of listening as immediate and unifying. Contending that the experimentation typically associated with modernist writing is partly due to this new attentiveness to sound, this book introduces a fresh perspective on texts that set the course of contemporary literature.