chapter  7
16 Pages

Hearing Hardy, Talking Tolstoy: The Audiobook Narrator’s Voice and Reader Experience: Sara Knox

BySARA KNOX

As Hillel Schwartz points out, the ear is a vulnerable organ and “our true bodily avant garde, in all senses of the term-military, psychological, cultural.”1 That the “indefensible ear” is at the mercy of loud sounds, or of sounds that cannot be switched off, is borne out by techniques of interrogation and torture currently undergoing a renaissance thanks to “no-touch torture” protocols.2 Whereas music is the more typical weapon of choice, voice and address have also been used to control, subdue, or demoralize.3 The soothing female voices of the propagandists broadcasting from Japanese-controlled radio stations during the Second World War evoked such antipathy and rage in Allied troops that they aggregated the different female voices under a single identity (“Tokyo Rose”). That act of incorporationthe giving of a body to the voices of their enemies-is a vivid example of what Steven Connor terms “compensatory substance”: the “indeterminate force” of sound “given an imaginary but determinate form.”4 “If sound suggests the idea of the exercise of power,” writes Connor, “this may be because it more fundamentally involves the subjection to it.”5