Amplifying the Aural in Literary Geography

Sheila Hones


Arguing that work in literary geography has so far concentrated almost exclusively on visualisations and the visual aspects of landscape and setting, this paper argues for more attention to be paid to the aural aspects of literary geography. Its discussion of sound and rhythm in literary space-time is divided into three main parts. The first part has to do with sound in the fictional world of narrative events and the contribution of reader auralisation to literary geography. The second part, dealing with the question of  'who, in the narrative world, is hearing', looks at cases in which reader auralisation is mediated through the perceptions of a character within the fictional world. Finally, moving away from questions of sound and hearing within the fictional world, the third part looks at the way in which the distinctive sound and rhythm of an underlying authorial narrative voice enables a coherent and convincing fictional space-time to emerge in the event of reading. It argues that even when the rhythms inherent in a specific narrative voice have no immediately obvious representational purpose, they nevertheless make a significant contribution to the creation of a unified fictional space-time. Assuming that the lack of appropriate critical terminology has been one of the factors inhibiting the recognition of an aural dimension to literary geography, the paper also explores how conceptual terms such as auralisation, point of audition, auscultation, and diffusion might enable new lines of work in the geographical reading of fictional setting, narrative, and author-reader collaboration.


auralisation; Colum McCann; literary space-time; setting; sound; rhythm

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