Friday, July 29, 2011

Speaking Novels

Milton Dictating to His Daughter (1794) by Henri Fuseli

"More and more writers are using voice recognition software, which is constantly improving and even has an app for the iPhone. The novelist Richard Powers has explained his process of dictating novels to his PC tablet as a return to 'writing by voice' as authors through history have done.
But earlier writers—Milton, Dostoevsky, Henry James—used the first form of voice recognition software: women.
[...] Dostoevsky called his transcriptionist, Anna Grigorievna, his 'collaborator.' He hired her in order to finish The Gambler because of a desperate contract he had made with his publisher. [...] Although there is no way to measure her contribution, it is clear that she was aware that she was offering more than efficiency of production. With her help, Dostoevsky finished The Gambler on deadline. Then he married her and their collaboration continued."— Amy Rowland, Utne Reader

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