Hugo Bowles,Dickens and the Stenographic Mind, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019

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Abstract

When Charles Dickens set out to forge a career in his early twenties, he notoriously juggled his lovefor theatre, mimicry, and storytelling with a regular job as a‘Short Hand Writer’ in judicial courts;and while Dickens’s fondness for the stage and popular entertainment constitutes a rich field ofresearch for scholars in Victorian literature and culture, who successfully traced back in his charac-ters’ idiolects a testament to the author’s keen theatrical awareness, not much came out of Dickens’sreporting experience in terms of establishing a critical connection between his mastery of shorthandand his longhand writing habits. Yet, as Hugo Bowles’s work acutely points out, a connection thereis, and a tight one, between Dickens’s capacity of linguistic invention, and his practice of short-hand, “because it shadowed his career as a writer and was a constant presence in his life as reporter,journalist, and novelist” (p. 3). This connection, while speaking primarily to Dickens’s capacity ofcharacter-building through idiolects and his literarization of orality, could profitably be employedby literary scholars to draw a comprehensive picture of Dickens’s aesthetics, especially with respectto the theatrical and polyphonic qualities of his narrative. Bowles’s outstanding research draws ona composite multidisciplinary approach involving historiography, morphology, phonetics, phonol-ogy, stylistics, sociolinguistics, cognitive linguistics, psychology of reading, in order to map out acomprehensive study of the cognitive processes involved in shorthand reporting, addressing “a num-ber of important debates in Victorian studies – orality and literacy in the eighteenth and nineteenthcenturies, Dickens’s social status as a law reporter, the role of voice and voicing in his writing processand style, his relationship with his readers, and his various writing personae as law reporter, sketch-writer, journalist, and novelist” (p. 4). All these debates are thoroughly explored in this eight-chap-ter monograph, which has the merit of exploring Dickens’s approach to shorthand with scientificrigour and discursive clarity.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)121-124
Numero di pagine4
RivistaL'ANALISI LINGUISTICA E LETTERARIA
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2020

Keywords

  • Charles Dickens, Shorthand, Victorian Studies

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