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Title: The 'disembodied voice' in fin-de-siècle British literature : its genealogy and significances
Author: Muto, Hiroshi
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2001
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A particular kind of voice recurs in fin-de-siècle British literature. It is a voice without a human body, a voice whose source is either invisible or non-human. This study explores the historical factors underlying the literary representation of such a voice. Chapter 1 examines Arthur Symons' phrase, 'the disembodied voice of a human soul,' and sets up the context for the subsequent discussion by teasing out the four major implications of the fin-de-siècle disembodied voice: the socio-political, the aesthetico-linguistic, the techno-scientific, and the sexual-somatic. Chapter 2 first outlines the modern origin of the disembodied voice in the Gothic-Romantic culture of the late eighteenth century, where the frequent description of the disembodied voice is linked to the rise of the nostalgia for premodernity; the chapter then analyzes the disembodied voice in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness both in terms of Gothic culture and of the fin-de-siècle situation. The Romantic aesthetico-linguistic prioritization of the aural-oral, which we call 'melocentricism,' the fin-de-siècle consumerism and colonialism, and the then influential scientific concept of ether receive scrutiny. Chapter 3 addresses Oscar Wilde's Salome. Apart from the factors that this play shares with Conrad's novella, the disembodied voice in Salome secretly expresses a longing for the homosexual-cum-communal. Chapter 4 explores the fin-de-siècle imperial and homosexual implications, and the 'melocentric' pre-history, of the phonographic voice in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Chapter 5 teases out the hidden political dimension of the technological voice, phonographic and wireless, in Kipling's Kim and '"Wireless".' Chapter 6 compares the fin-de-siècle voice with an instance of the early twentieth-century, the wireless voice in D. H. Lawrence's Ladv Chatterley's Lover, a voice now involved in the global network of broadcasting. It is concluded that the disembodied voice is inseparable from important aspects of fin-de-siècle British culture as well as the question of modernity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature