breathless: sound recording, disembodiment, and the transformation of lyrical nostalgia – allen s. weiss

How sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death.

Currently sitting with this book in my reading queue… i.e. trying to wait until I have read the stuff I need to prioritise before diving into it, but having peeped the PDF I’m struggling to!

Breathless explores early sound recording and the literature that both foreshadowed its invention and was contemporaneous with its early years, revealing the broad influence of this new technology at the very origins of Modernism. Through close readings of works by Edgar Allan Poe, Stéphane Mallarmé, Charles Cros, Paul Valéry, Villiers de L’Isle-Adam, Jules Verne, and Antonin Artaud, Allen S. Weiss shows how sound recording’s uncanny confluence of human and machine would transform our expectations of mourning and melancholia, transfiguring our intimate relation to death. Interdisciplinary, the book bridges poetry and literature, theology and metaphysics. As Breathless shows, the symbolic and practical roles of poetry and technology were transformed as new forms of nostalgia and eroticism arose.

breathless

“By suggesting that sound recording changes the very notion of textuality at a key inflection point in Modernism, Weiss literally turns the field of cultural studies on its ear.” (Gregory Whitehead, co-editor of Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio and the Avant-Garde)

“The extremely important, cogent analysis adds immeasurably to our knowledge of cultural production in the critical years between early modern lyric and our own post-modern, post-lyric age.” (Lawrence R. Schehr, Professor of French, University of Illinois)

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