Literary critics and historians have often stressed the importance of the sensory experience in John Gay’s Trivia (1716) and have concentrated on the visual impact of the London cityscape as being responsible for the sensory impressions in the poem. But, as Trivia’s London is largely represented by street noise, this essay argues that it is above all sound that gives the poem this impressionistic quality. City noise is constantly present as a backdrop to Gay’s eighteenth-century urban setting. Moreover, much of the text reveals social tensions in an urban setting where individual identities are effaced, and Trivia’s speaker is constantly at pains to preserve the integrity of his own self. But as neither silence nor distance are possible in Gay’s London, there is no escape from the crowd’s press or from the continuous invasion of sound. Especially the emphasis on the presence of traffic noise, and the allusions to Homeric and Biblical chariots of war, turns into a powerful symbol of fear of the city as a place of moral degradation and cultural annihilation.

Loss of Identity in the Urban Soundscape of John Gay’s Trivia

Jan Marten Ivo Klaver
2020-01-01

Abstract

Literary critics and historians have often stressed the importance of the sensory experience in John Gay’s Trivia (1716) and have concentrated on the visual impact of the London cityscape as being responsible for the sensory impressions in the poem. But, as Trivia’s London is largely represented by street noise, this essay argues that it is above all sound that gives the poem this impressionistic quality. City noise is constantly present as a backdrop to Gay’s eighteenth-century urban setting. Moreover, much of the text reveals social tensions in an urban setting where individual identities are effaced, and Trivia’s speaker is constantly at pains to preserve the integrity of his own self. But as neither silence nor distance are possible in Gay’s London, there is no escape from the crowd’s press or from the continuous invasion of sound. Especially the emphasis on the presence of traffic noise, and the allusions to Homeric and Biblical chariots of war, turns into a powerful symbol of fear of the city as a place of moral degradation and cultural annihilation.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2674369
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