Helen Slaney discusses sensory history and the musicality of poetry in her review of Shane Butler’s The Ancient Phonograph in The Classical Review. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full article. An excerpt appears below.
“A phonograph, as [Butler] explains at the outset, is a technological mechanism for recording the voice; not merely (or indeed perhaps at all) a mechanism for recording words, but rather for capturing the paralinguistic properties of speech, the sonic attributes that make listening a sensual, quasi-haptic experience. Vox is everything that verba (‘language’) appears to exclude, the roughness, softness, hoarseness and mellowness of the sounding body. And yet, as [Butler] goes on to demonstrate, ancient literature developed its own devices, its own technologies for recording the elusive voice and making it virtually available to readers who receive it as auditors, not only contemporaneously but also, somewhat more radically, centuries later.”