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Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 15, issue 1 (January 2017) : 135-150
Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröcker’s Aural Texts

Inge Arteel
Rubric A: History of Humanities
Rubric B: Twentieth-Century Literature



Austrian neo-avant-garde authors excelled in literary forms that foregrounded the acoustic quality of voices. Their concern was not to establish the voice as a disembodied medium of pure emotionality; rather, they experimented with the corporeal materiality and technical mediality of voice and speech, and explored the ethics and aesthetics of non-sovereign, “impure” voices. After some introductory remarks on the work of Ernst Jandl, this essay argues this stance in regard to selected texts by the Viennese author Friederike Mayröcker. In a striking awareness of the cultural history of the voice, her texts present playful parodic rewritings of traditional vocal pathos genres such as the lyrical elegy, the opera aria, and the echolalic lament. They demonstrate the appealing quality of heteronomous, dispossessed speaking or singing voices, an appeal that is well worth listening to.

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