Reading aloud and Charles Dickens’ aural iconic prose style

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This paper explores how the Victorian practice of reading aloud affected Dickens’s writing style. My argument is that the practice contributed to an aural prose style in the author’s novels. In the novels, a considerable amount of passages which are particularly aural in nature and performance-oriented can be found. Dickens made use of various formal linguistic means such as typography, onomatopoeia, sound patterning, sentence length and prose rhythm to foreground the sound portrayed in the passages. Also, I argue that the emphasis on sound in Dickens’s novels sometimes also serves the purposes of narrative power, that is, it results in rhetorical impact, emotional heightening, and highlighting of key narrative moments.


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