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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 May 2020

Anna Snaith
Affiliation:
King's College London
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Summary

A week after the end of WWII, a nightingale begins to sing in the darkness of a northwest London park. ‘Figures of listeners’ appear in the nearby lighted windows. Part of the ‘emanations of peacetime’, the mellifluous whistles and trills transfix but also unsettle those within earshot emerging as they are from an auditory wartime regime of hyper-alert listening. The bird sings ‘into incredulity […] note after note from its throat stripped everything else to silence.’ This is Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘I Hear You Say So’ (1945), but in all her fiction, and her work as a broadcaster and writer for the BBC, Bowen had a keen ear for the acoustics of modernity, particularly the uncanny and troubling properties of found sound. In this story, too, given that the nightingale’s song is acousmatic – the tiny bird unseen – Bowen plays with the confusion between ‘absolute’ and reproduced sound.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Anna Snaith, King's College London
  • Book: Sound and Literature
  • Online publication: 29 May 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108855532.001
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  • Introduction
  • Edited by Anna Snaith, King's College London
  • Book: Sound and Literature
  • Online publication: 29 May 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108855532.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Edited by Anna Snaith, King's College London
  • Book: Sound and Literature
  • Online publication: 29 May 2020
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108855532.001
Available formats
×