ERIC Number: ED207099
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1981-Apr
Reference Count: 0
19th Century Roots of Modern Interpretation Theory: Dickens as a Platform Performer.
Gentile, John Samuel
Charles Dickens was not only a master novelist but was also a master in the art of performance. His distinctive reading style was in marked contrast to the standard practices of mid-nineteenth century elocution, but his unique readings and performance philosophy closely resemble the text-centered approach of modern oral interpretation. Considered by many of his contemporaries to be the outstanding solo reader, Dickens aspired to be an actor, which enabled him to create the many memorable characters in his writing. When he read his works, it was his characterization that won the critics' acclaim. His physical gestures were accentuated by gaslight and an unobtrusive backdrop. He also employed vocal variations in pitch, regional dialects, and even the imitation of speech impediments to present his characters as faithfully as conceived in print. In Dickens's time, elocution, or the study of articulation, modulation, and inflection, was prescribed in instituted lessons and exercises. The omission of characterization in elocutionist texts makes Dickens a pioneer in the history of interpretation. His innovations are now common practice in the field of interpretation: the recent movement toward greater physicality makes interpretation actually closer to Dickens's style than was true earlier in this century. (HTH)
Publication Type: Reports - General; Speeches/Meeting Papers; Historical Materials
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Dickens (Charles); Elocution
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Central States Speech Association (Chicago, IL, April 9-11, 1981).