Jane Austen’s voice

The most essential character in any Jane Austen novel is the voice of the narrator, setting up or commenting upon each scene, dropping hints here and there, letting the reader in on what’s really going on. This places us in a privileged position, and allows us to realize aspects of relationships between characters that the characters themselves do not yet see. Hitchcock and Scorcese do not have access to an omniscient narrator’s spoken voice, but they have the camera, and the editor’s knife, which serve an analogous purpose by sculpting an ever-shifting subjective point of view.

It may be that the most essential change in storytelling from the nineteenth century to the twentieth was the migration of the narrator’s voice from words to images. And how will the narrator’s voice be transformed as our current century progresses? Does it all just end in images, or will something else emerge? Anyone have any thoughts on this?

One Response to “Jane Austen’s voice”

  1. Bern says:

    Scorcese actually does use the voice of a narrator (Joann Woodward) in The Age of Innocence (1993) and it is quite splendid how he incorporates voice with image in this film, although somehow, the narrator was not the most essential character, yet was necessary within the film text…Almost like a Greek chorus…He then went on to use the same technique in Goodfellas only the narrator (Ray Liotta) was also a character in the film like Carrie in Sex and the City or Ellen in Dead Like Me, almost like a diary entry…Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, and Charlotte Bronte, to name a few were one of the first in the 19th century to narrate in first person in their novels as characters engaged in the story, not just the telling. I don’t know how the voice will be transformed…Comtemporary performance art uses voice and image in an interesting way, like what the Fluxus artists did. George Brecht’s drip music, John Cage’s work and Yoko Ono’s…They all opened up the way a narrator is placed in any kind of text…

Leave a Reply