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Victorian Soundscapes Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0195151916 ISBN-10: 0195151917

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Editorial Reviews


"Picker is suggestive, intelligent and insightful.... There are enough fine chords struck and suggestions made so his own soundscape keeps resonating after the book is closed.... [He] is subtly and ingeniously his dissection of George Eliot's Daniel Deronda."--Edward Rothstein, The New York Times

"A pioneering work on an important topic.... Fascinating.... Important for [its] interest in how the senses register modernity, and for the broader social implications of the ways in which the outside world penetrates the bodily sensorium, whether the ear accommodates, or is jarred by, the impact of technology and of commerce."--Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

"[A] brilliant interweaving of diverse texts and fields around the Victorian cultural response to the perceiving body."--Albion

"Poised to propel further study of Victorian acoustic culture, an outgrowth and counterpart to widespread study of visual technologies."--Victorian Poetry

"Picker's Victorian Soundscapes brilliantly evokes not only the sheer noisiness of nineteenth-century city life, but also the vibrancy of authorial response to it.... His approach is absorbingly persuasive."--Dickens Quarterly

"Informed and freshly provocative. These close readings of fin-de-siècle literary texts underscore Picker's primary contribution to the field. Victorian Soundscapes adds a new sonic layer of meaning to literary works about which we thought we'd heard it all before."--Victorian Studies

"The past few years of scholarly work have treated us to an amazing playback of Victorian sounds, with John Picker's excellent book holding a central place in that recovery effort.... An elegant orchestration of some of those sounds that teaches our scholarly ears how to listen better. No one who reads it will fail to appreciate, as the Victorians did themselves, their acoustic culture."--Jonathan Grossman, Modern Philology

"The kind of work that Picker exhibits here represents the best of contemporary cultural criticism."--Victorian Literature and Culture

"Picker amplifies 'the faint murmur of soundscape studies,' which have reached their steadiest 'hum' in work on the twentieth century, through this 'ear-opening' study of sound in Victorian literature and culture."--Modern Language Quarterly

"One of the most exciting recent developments in the history of consciousness has been a heightened awareness of listening: an exploration of how acoustic environments, the technologies of sound, and the means of vocal communication shape our sense of ourselves and of the worlds we live in. John Picker's Victorian Soundscapes speaks on this topic with an assured voice. It offers the attentive ear both a rich trove of historical lore and an incisive analysis of how modern acoustics became a part of modern subjectivity. The book is rewarding both as a study of Victorian 'close listening' in its own right and as a source of resonant case studies in the emerging field of cultural acoustics."--Lawrence Kramer, Fordham University

"In this impressively researched book, John M. Picker has broken ground for a new field of social history, the widening of the Victorians' aural experience, from street musicians to the phonograph and the telephone, and its significant bearing on sound and silence in the literary works of the period."--Richard D. Altick, Ohio State University

"In this wonderfully rich contribution to the history of sensory experience, John Picker demonstrates that Victorian daily life was increasingly awash in sounds both subtle and strident--from the lapping of waves and the uproar of street noises to phonographed recordings of human voices. Combining accounts of science and technology with analyses of literary representations, Picker's case studies authoritatively establish the importance of a sensory modality to whose meanings a wide range of Victorian writers were remarkably attentive."--Janice Carlisle, Tulane University

About the Author

John M. Picker is Associate Professor of English at Harvard University

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