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“Poo-tee-weet?” and Other Pastoral Questions

Abstract : The idea of pastoral sounds in literature brings with it a particular set of problems. Beyond the straightforward (and fairly reductive) consideration of sounds associated with the shepherd’s life—that is, a thematic sample—what makes a sound “pastoral?” If an aural locus amoenus exists, how is it encoded? With reference to Kurt Vonnegut, William Blake, Allen Ginsberg and others, this paper will underline the elementary but crucial distinction between sound and meaning and how the representation of sound can point toward pastoral meanings. It will argue that “pastoral sound” often appears as a sub-category of personification. In such cases, nature not only has something to tell us but, seductively, it speaks our language, and tells us something we want to hear. This perception runs the risk of indulging in sentimental pastoral but it also can be part of a “dialogic listening mode” and serve as an opening to a more nuanced appreciation of our species’ place in nature.
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Contributor : Charles Holdefer <>
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Charles Holdefer. “Poo-tee-weet?” and Other Pastoral Questions. E-rea - Revue électronique d’études sur le monde anglophone, Laboratoire d’Études et de Recherche sur le Monde Anglophone, 2017, ⟨10.4000/erea.5706⟩. ⟨halshs-02519662⟩



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