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Victorian Soundscapes$
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John M. Picker

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195151916

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151916.001.0001

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THE RECORDED VOICE FROM VICTORIAN AURA TO MODERNIST ECHO

THE RECORDED VOICE FROM VICTORIAN AURA TO MODERNIST ECHO

Chapter:
(p.110) 4 THE RECORDED VOICE FROM VICTORIAN AURA TO MODERNIST ECHO
Source:
Victorian Soundscapes
Author(s):

John M. Picker (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195151916.003.0005

This chapter argues that while moderns used the gramophone to represent their concerns over the disintegration of artistic “aura” in an age of mechanical reproduction, Victorians used the phonograph in ways that spoke to their own concerns over issues ranging from the domestic to the imperial. It presents a cultural study attentive to the varied, often contradictory later Victorian manifestations of the phonograph, in the publicity-related activities of Thomas Edison's London agent George Gouraud, who arranged for recordings to be made of Robert Browning and Alfred Tennyson, as well as in works such as Arthur Conan Doyle's “The Voice of Science” and “The Japanned Box”, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The phonograph, with the power to record and replay, promised a special kind of communal integrity even as it extended a troubling sense of fragmentation. Through its mechanical reproduction of voice, it offered forms of control and interaction that late Victorians initially found not impersonal and fearful as moderns later did, but in a period of diminishing mastery over empire and the self, individualized, reassuring, and even desirable.

Keywords:   Thomas Edison, George Gouraud, Bram Stoker, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, Robert Browning, Alfred Tennyson, His Master's Voice

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