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Writing Novels, Simulating Voices: Euphonia, Trilby, and the Technological Sounding of Identity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2021


This article troubles a tendency in literary criticism to equate novelistic speech with sound recording. It recovers the history of Joseph Faber's Euphonia (a speech simulator exhibited from the 1840s to the 1880s) in order to articulate an alternative vocal ontology of the novel—one of simulation rather than recording. The Euphonia has striking parallels to the eponymous heroine of George Du Maurier's Trilby (1894): their comparably mechanized utterances flatten hierarchies of difference, instead of phonographically using the voice to archive particularity. In dialogue, the Euphonia and Trilby elucidate the relationship between page and voice as always collaborative, though contoured by power.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2021

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