The tilt of a head, the quirk of an eyebrow, or a shift in position can eloquently portray a wide range of emotions without a single word being spoken. Body language is a critical component of everyday communication, yet the importance of body language, or non-verbal communication, in such a verbal medium as literature has not been fully studied. In Body Language in Literature, Barbara Korte has produced an important interdisciplinary study, by establishing a general theory that accounts for the varieties of body language encountered in literary narrative, based on a general history of the phenomenon in the English language. By focusing major works of literature, including stories by D.H. Laurence, Margaret Atwood, and J.D. Salinger, Korte shows body language to be a vital, yet unexplored method of communication in literature.
Barbara Korte is Professor of English Literature at the University of Tubingen, Germany.