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Musicality of a Literary Work


Andrzej Hejmej

This book represents an attempt to capture different links between modern literature and music. The author examines strict intertextual correlations, the phenomena of musicality and musicality of literary works, the musical structure in literature, so-called musical literary texts. He focuses on the novel Le Cœur absolu by Philippe Sollers, the poem Todesfuge by Paul Celan, the Preludio e Fughe by Umberto Saba and the drama Judasz z Kariothu [Judas Iscariot] by Karol Hubert Rostworowski. The analysis also includes Stanisław Barańczak’s cycle of poems Podróż zimowa: Wiersze do muzyki Franza Schuberta [Winter Journey: Poems to the Music of Franz Schubert] and a fragment of Scène from Hérodiade by Stéphane Mallarmé in Paul Hindemith’s composition «Hérodiade» de Stéphane Mallarmé.

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1 Around Tadeusz Szulc’s[[I27]] Muzyka w dziele literackim [Music in a Literary Work]


The context of the pre-war polemics of Tadeusz Szulc48 and his followers (particularly his contemporaries) discussing the “musicality of literature” appears here for two reasons: firstly, to signal the importance of the dispute at the time and the extent of its repercussions as one of the breakthroughs in the Polish theoretical-literary tradition, punctum saliens; and secondly, to place further considerations in the general optics of Muzyka w dziele literackim, but to affirm (against the arguments presented there), that certain possibilities exist on such grounds for undertaking effective musical-literary research from the side of literature. The first issue, essentially a recapitulation, requires calling the fundamental line of “dispute about the non-musicality of a literary work”49 and reviewing the approaches to its theoretical interpretation. In this dimension, the basic accent must be placed both on the circumstances of the creation of the discussion without precedent in the Polish humanities50, as well as its strongly specific interaction in the sense of inspiration or even readiness to acquire negative arguments. In fact, even if this dissertation does not directly inspire contemporary literary researchers on account of its historical and methodological-settlement option, it remains indirectly important as pressing heavily on the post-war tradition of Polish musical-literary studies undertaken from the perspective of history and theory of literature.

As to the second question, namely the speculative form of reception opening the space of musical-literary studies, it should be emphasised that the criticism approach proposed here of “musicality” is not something new, but is...

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