By Mary Hayes (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0230118739

ISBN-13: 9780230118737

ISBN-10: 1349291900

ISBN-13: 9781349291908

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Extra resources for Divine Ventriloquism in Medieval English Literature: Power, Anxiety, Subversion

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As Anglo- Saxon scriptorium riddles suggest, the necromantic power ascribed to the phonograph is not particular to the modern technological era and its novel contribution to the history of sound. It also underlies the medieval notion of voces paginarum explained by Isidore of Seville 36 DIVIN E V ENTRILOQUISM (c. 560–636) and, after him, John of Salisbury (c. 1120–80): the text’s written letters represent the voices of those not present to us. 32 In the voces paginarum conceit, the author’s voice is stored in his written text and resounds when the reader ventriloquizes his words, a process that anticipates the phonograph’s “reading” of vocal tracks inscribed on a record.

1–6) [Some enemy robbed me of life, stole my physical strength. Then he wet me, dipped me in water. He took me out again, set me in the sun where I quickly lost all my hair. 6 But then, what becomes of oral performances once written customs have been introduced? It would seem that they too succumb to the practices pertinent to written textuality. As we see in the inkhorn riddle (#92), the mutilated creature cannot even utter a complaint about its circumstances: siþþan mec isern innanweardne brun bennade blod ut ne com T H E TA L K I NG DE A D 29 heolfor of hreþre þeah mec heard bite stiðecg style no ic þa stunde bemearn ne for wunde weop.

The riddle’s reader has thus changed subject positions, from one who listens to scripture being read to one who reads it. , a listener’s at Mass), a rhetorical move that also repositions the reader from being part of the audience at the liturgy to the priest speaking the Bible’s words. In light of the T H E TA L K I NG DE A D 41 attention paid to this rhetorical act, we might ask: whose voice exactly is the reader ventriloquizing? Although the riddle’s critically endorsed solution is “the Bible” or “a gospel book,” the speaker’s self-designation as a teacher (10, lareow) also suggests another illustrious entity to whom the voice could belong: Christ.

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Divine Ventriloquism in Medieval English Literature: Power, Anxiety, Subversion by Mary Hayes (auth.)

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