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Book Chapter

Eerie Technologies and Gothic Acoustemology

Edwards JD (2015) Eerie Technologies and Gothic Acoustemology. In: Edwards J (ed.) Technologies of the Gothic in Literature and Culture: Technogothics. Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature, 32. London: Routledge, pp. 48-59.

First paragraph: In Canto XIII of Dante’s Inferno, the poet and his guide, Virgil, enter the second ring of hell. Here, the poet is taken aback by eerie sounds: ‘I heard cries coming from every direction / And yet saw nobody who could be crying; / I became so bewildered that I stopped’. Upon hearing these disembodied cries, the poet is so disoriented in this dark forest of strange trees that he stops in his tracks. As the voices continue to emerge from the tree-stumps, Virgil encourages the poet to ‘break off / A little twig from one of these plants’. He follows his guide’s suggestion and picks a little branch from a great thorn. As he does, the trunk cries out in pain: ‘Why are you tearing me? […] Why are you dismembering me? Have you no compassion?’ (98). The poet hears the plant’s pain as these words emerge from the wound on the plant’s stem. Virgil explains that, while he regrets the suffering inflicted upon the plant, his friend would never have believed it unless he had heard the cries from the plant itself. Hearing is believing.

Gothic revival (Literature); History and criticism; Technology in literature; Gothic fiction (Literary genre)

Author(s)Edwards, Justin D.
Title of seriesRoutledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Literature
Number in series32
Publication date31/12/2015
Publisher URL…ok/9781138797192
Place of publicationLondon
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