This book argues that we should regard walking and talking in a single rhythmic vision. In doing so, it contributes to the theory of prosody, our understanding of respiration and looking, and, in sum, to the particular links, across the board, between the human characteristics of bipedal walking and meaningful talk.
The author first introduces the philosophical, neurological, anthropological, and aesthetic aspects of the subject in historical perspective, then focuses on rhetoric and introduces a tension between the small and large issues of rhythm. He thereupon turns his attention to the roles of breathing in poetry-as a life-and-death matter, with attention to beats and walking poems. This opens onto technical concepts from the classical traditions of rhetoric and philology.
Turning to the relationship between prosody and motion, he considers both animals and human beings as both ostensibly able-bodied creatures and presumptively disabled ones. Finally, he looks at dancing and writing as aspects of walking and talking, with special attention to motion in Arabic and Chinese calligraphy.
The final chapters of the book provide a series of interrelated representative case studies.
Marc Shell, a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow, is Irving Babbitt Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University. The most recent of his many books are Polio and Its Aftermath: The Paralysis of Culture and Stutter.
CHAPTER ONE: STARTING OUT 1. Prologue & Preamble 2. Talking & Walking 3. Rhythm & Meter 4. Scansion & Breathing (Caesura, Beat, Walking Poems) 5. Kinesiology & Prosody (Canine Walkies, Galloping Verse, Lame Metrics) 6. Writing & Dancing 7. Letting the Ducks Out CHAPTER TWO: WALKING VOICES 1. "And God went, 'Where are you'?" in the Bible's In The Beginning 2. The Walking Bass in Monteverdi's My Foot Slips Again  3. "I can Scarcely Move or Draw my Breath" in Purcell's King Arthur  CHAPTER THREE: TRIPS OF THE TONGUE IN HAMLET  1. Crawl 2. Pause 3. Mobility 4. Claudication 5. Will he Nill he 6. Triplex CHAPTER FOUR: TALKING CURES 1. "Walking and Talking at the Same Time": Wordsworth's Dilation (Pedestrianism, Bumming, Hopping & Ambling) 2. "Slips of the Tongue": Freud's Hinking (Hysterical Narratives, Limping Iambics) CHAPTER FIVE: WALKIE TALKIES 1. Tin Man's "Can Can Can" in The Wizard of Oz  2. Foghorn Leghorn's "Walkie Talkie" in Walky Talky Hawky  3. Lina Lamont's "Pipes and Stems" in Singin' in the Rain  4. L.B. Jeffries' "Totter" in Rear Window  CHAPTER SIX: MARCHING & HEILING IN THE GREAT DICTATOR  1. Powerful Crowds 2. Goose Steps 3. Macaronic Speeches 4. Anatine Quacks 5. Mind the Music CHAPTER SEVEN: SIGN LANGUAGES 1. Ma Bell's "Let your Fingers do the Walking" in The Yellow Pages  2. Dorothy Miles' Body-Sign Language in Gestures  CHAPTER EIGHT: POSTAMBLE & EPILOGUE 1. Reduplication 2. Talking the Walk & Walking the Talk 3. The Finish Line 4. A Walking Solution BACK MATTER 1. Illustrations (List) 2. Abbreviations