6. The long history of reading aloud

The idea of putting spaces between written words didn’t develop until thousands of years after writing itself was invented. Before then, even literate people could only recognize words by reading aloud. And since then, we’ve read aloud for many different reasons. Our guest Roger Chartier walks us through a few of the most interesting — from raucous Shakespearean theaters to railway passengers cozying up with strangers to listen to a novel.

Works mentioned

– John Webster, “To the Reader”, preface to The White Devil

– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

– William Shakespeare, Hamlet (second quarto)

– Kenneth Branagh (director), Hamlet

– Samuel Pepys, Diary

Further reading

Li Ping at China Daily – Keen readers flock to recording booths in response to hit TV show 

Annie Hartnett at The Millions – Comfort Food: The Importance of Reading Aloud as Adults

Abigail Williams at Literary Hub – Reading aloud with others is more important than you think

Martin Cahill at Book Riot – Five tips for reading aloud to your partner

Malia Wollan at The New York Times – How to Read Aloud to Children

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