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Title: 'The auditive intelligence' : intonation in Henry James
Author: Lello, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 9347 8969
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2020
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This thesis seeks to retrieve the ‘auditive intelligence’ in the work of Henry James, but it does so by first recognising some of the theoretical and historical obstacles that lie in the way of such a recovery. Structural linguistics has been responsible for encouraging the assumption that there are no better or worse ways of speaking, that the differences between writing and speech are of little significance, and that tone is merely a subset of language. James’s formulation of the ‘auditive intelligence’ in his revised essay on the French actor Benoît-Constant Coquelin (1915) emerges in opposition to further, historically situated, impediments: the lack of any ‘serious study’ of tone, the false choice between saying and doing, the theatrical vogue for pictorialism, and the priority of the eye over the ear. The ‘auditive intelligence’ makes it possible to conceive of tone as in itself a complete drama, a revelatory instant where previously concealed relations suddenly adopt an emphatic salience. In The Tragic Muse (1890) the discrimination of tone, both as a quality of the voice and of its discernment, emerges as one form this intelligence takes. This mode of personal and cultural edification is developed with reference to ‘The Question of Our Speech’ (1905), James’s essays on the speech and manners of American women (1906-1907), The Awkward Age (1899), and The Ambassadors (1903). The discrimination of tone depends upon the accumulation and fulfilment of experience, and this is particularly evident when tone remains long after the death of its speaker, or else is capable of preserving life itself. This is explored in ‘Frances Anne Kemble’ (1893) and The Golden Bowl (1904). This thesis hopes to identify an overlooked element of James’s style, one that represents a largely unprecedented moment in English literary history; because in James’s writing intonation possesses a prosodic sophistication typically reserved for verse, the auditive intelligence forms part of his broader aspiration to transform the cultural status of the novel.
Supervisor: Follini, Tamara Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Tone ; Intonation ; Henry James ; Prosody ; Voice in Literature ; Prose Rhythm ; Nineteenth-Century Literary Style ; History and Criticism ; American Prose Literature ; English Prose Literature