Laughing matter: Charles Cros, from paléophone to monologue

Kerr, G. (2020) Laughing matter: Charles Cros, from paléophone to monologue. Nottingham French Studies, 59(1), pp. 34-50. (doi: 10.3366/nfs.2020.0270)

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Nineteenth-century poet, savant and inventor Charles Cros is a figure whose endeavours were exceptionally wide-ranging. They include a proposed instrument which would be the first of its kind capable of recording sound (the ‘paléophone’); treatises on photography and interplanetary communication; poetry, and a body of comic monologues which belong to the current of fumisme. This article argues that Cros's monologues are subtly inflected by his interest in the faculty of speech and technologies of sound reproduction. While they do not explicitly evoke such technologies, they show an acute sensitivity to the quirks and accidents of the spoken word to which neither dramatic convention nor indeed norms of social discourse attribute sense. It is this ill-formed matter, amounting to a kind of discursive ‘noise’, which allows Cros to offer a wry commentary on the pretensions of a fin-de-siècle culture preoccupied with the strategizing of utterance and the production of an objectified record of the spoken word.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Monologue, paléophone, voice, noise, humour, inarticulacy, phonograph.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kerr, Dr Greg
Authors: Kerr, G.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PB Modern European Languages
P Language and Literature > PC Romance languages
P Language and Literature > PQ Romance literatures
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Nottingham French Studies
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):2047-7236
Published Online:01 February 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © Edinburgh University Press 2020
First Published:First published in Nottingham French Studies 59(1):34-50
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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