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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]

1Around Tadeusz Szulc’s 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 undoubtedly preceded by the findings first of Konstanty Regamey in his highly polemical review, somewhat later Tadeusz Makowiecki51. Szulc’s clarifications are supported by them fragmentarily and in a perspective that makes it possible to designate potential research areas for musical entanglements in a literary work. Regamey only brings reflection to the sound sphere of literary text, Makowiecki however sketches the maximum range of consideration, also taking into account cases of interpreting musical construction in literature52. Detailed findings focus on the issue in quite different ways, but their optics turns out to be similar in general due to the eclectic strategy. The ambivalent attitude to Szulc’s postulates is otherwise characteristic of many post-war historians and theoreticians of literature, undertaking various studies of the affiliations of a literary work with music under the direct or indirect influence of negative or – as Stanisław Dąbrowski describes it – “negativistic”53 theses. One could risk saying that every person calling up this dissertation in the form of a context for their own proposals (starting from Makowiecki, who was still interested in the problems of the connections between literature and music in the nineteen thirties) is sentenced – in an individually chosen way – to formulate constructive conclusions from “introduction to the new science about literature”54, to break Szulc’s radically negative optics. Consequently: as far as the proposals are relatively easy to organise in the field of Muzyka w dziele literackim55, so many complications in their classification appear when comparing extremely negative criticism with the state of its research reception, that is, when we pay attention to the aporetical nature of scholarly adaptations or individual appropriations.

The dissertation constitutes, paradoxically, on one hand, the most advanced ex definitione criticism of all discussion about the “musicality” of a literary work (enclave status is only granted to the thematisation of music), and at the same time on the other hand – a serious impulse and context for many research projects of this type56. This is also why its theoretical reception is co-created by two polar interpretive sketching variants: legitimate and speculative. Remaining with challenging the meaningfulness of research on the borderline between the arts in the optics imposed by Szulc in the year 1937, the problem of “musicality” is contained in all forced forms. A completely different perspective opens in the situation when attempting to review the field of destructive criticism directed at metaphorised, pre-war type of literary studies claiming the right to scientific exploration. Then speculative theoretical activity – taking into account many of Szulc’s legitimate postulates, regarding, for example, the non-existence of musical analogies in a literary work – acquires a certain legitimacy. Such action not only leads to direct polemics, but also serves to determine the historical research horizon and a reference point for current activity. Hence the general and radical thesis that: “The musical tendency in literature – both for poets and critics – will always be merely a phantasy presenting itself as a heritage of a romantic approach to art and romantic longings […]”57 – finds a counterbalance, not in the form of criticism, but in a fundamentally different methodological perspective. The rationale is in fact the same, but the type of interpretation is different, in conclusion leading Szulc to closure of the problematic will define a critical starting point in contemporary research.

Conditionings of criticism

A particular source of negative criticism should be seen in the relatively liberal article “Muzyka w dziele literackim” [“Music in a Literary Work”] (Pion 1935, No. 28) which preceded the book by two-years. The two projects are closely related, and it is not without reason that they bear the same title; they are of interest not through the prism of obvious problem convergence, but subtle conceptual differences. It is an important matter, not yet noticed, that Szulc’s initial findings regarding the phenomenon of “musicality” in literature are not of an extremely negative character (“can a literary work evoke a kind of musical experience in us. […] We will answer the above question in the affirmative”58). Further consequences turn out to be secondary, caused by Stanisław Furmanik’s59 basic retort (“Dzieło literackie a muzyka” [“A Literary Work and Music”], in: Pion 1935, No. 37), against the formulated opinions primarily in respect of “phonology” (“‘phonology’ is the only real material that makes it possible to talk about the musicality of a literary work”60). Szulc, in response to violent criticism and defending his own position (“Malum musicale: Odpowiedź P. St. Furmanikowi” [“Malum Musicale: Answer to Mr St. Furmanik”], in: Pion 1935, No. 43) clearly radicalises the point of view and, in a sense, even contradicts himself in comparison with the first article (“literary work is not able to arouse any kind of original, specific musical experiences in us […]”61). Although logical procedures do not yet appear in the course of his reasoning, the conclusions are however formulated in a sharp tone reminiscent of the most polemical fragments of the dissertation.

The signalled exchange of views reveals, I think, the basic impulse of the critical undertaking, explains the circumstances of the formation of restrictive ←30 | 31→views, and indirectly the scale of the presented argumentation. Even if Szulc draws out consequences from the “eccentric”62, in his view, position of Eugeniusz Kucharski, who acknowledged the existence of “musicality”, suggestively eliminating the phenomenon as compromising poetry (“phonics start playing first violin […] poetry turns into a ‘resounding gong or a clanging cymbal’”63), first and foremost he remains under the influence of confrontation with Furmanik and most likely attempts to prevent the emergence of another polemic. In this context, the source of the tendentious character of the dissertation must be considered in the historical dimension from two aspects: firstly, in connection with the crystallisation of individual views, secondly – and especially – due to the tendency in literary studies that has been growing since the beginning of the twentieth century (clearly with the apogee at the turn of the twenties and thirties) for boundlessly indicating the analogy between literature and music. Despite the ahistorically defined problem of musical affiliations in the title, first and foremost the historical aspect is represented quite unambiguously in Muzyka w dziele literackim. The criticism brought forth strikes at the incorrect convention of considering the “musicality” of a literary work, and applies in equal measure to predecessors, as well as to those contemporary to Szulc, and to historians of literature and critics writing “journalistic articles”64.

The image of pre-war research concerning the so-called musicality in literature creates a kind of amalgam: the issue does not raise major concerns, and the term itself functions in a variety of contexts65. Generally speaking, reference to the analogy of literature and music through the use of extremely metaphorised language and without proper argumentation gains popular acceptance. As a result, an example of the form of fugue for Juliusz Tenner will be breakneck analysis of a fragment of Balladyna [Balladyna]66, for Bruno Schulz – the construction of Cudzoziemka [The Foreigner]67. The tendency that prevailed at that time, “a carefree state of unanimity”68, is well characterised by Juliusz Kleiner: “when once it was wrongly claimed that poetry is painting that speaks, painting is silent poetry – today we are inclined to the no less mistaken assertion that poetry is the music of words, music – poetry without words”69. In such circumstances, Szulc’s polemic vigour – to emphasise once again – stems not so much from the intention of sorting out the issue as from the critical crushing of all cases of impressional theorising on the theme of “musicality”. A peculiar lack of discrepancies between the effects of using historical-literary research methodology and criticism tools leads to a general diagnosis, that literary history in the field of presenting entanglements of literary work with music does not differ from criticism70. This allegation appears to be addressed to many Polish literature researchers, assuming a priori, that it reveals the detailed conditions of discussing the “musicality” of one or another literary work, and at the same time points to this connection with the source of the phenomenon in the European aesthetic-philosophical tradition.

Szulc’s strategy

The fundamental problem of the “non-musicality” of a literary work is presented in the canon of observing methodological purity, therefore Szulc’s point of view also turns out to be concurrent in character with the theoretical views of the then Warsaw group71, as signalled by Henryk Markiewicz. The obligatory hermetic strategy narrows the sphere of phenomena a priori to the limits of one field of art: the same literary work can be categorised either in the space of literary ←32 | 33→research, or – since it loses the status of its original autonomy and functions as a deconstructed element of a musical work – in the space of musicological research (for example verbal text in a vocal composition, or as a programme for a symphonic poem). In consequence, the possibility of complementary introduction of the musical context into the scope of literary research is excluded and account is not taken of actions within one of the branches of comparative literature, interdisciplinary musical-literary studies – a matter that should be made more clear today. For a radical supporter of detailed aesthetics or methodological purism, exclusive treatment of individual fields of art (as areas of penetration) is equivalent to exposing irreducible ontological differences72.

Two general postulates formulated in a modern manner precede reframing “critical-negative”73 in the Introductory remarks with the intention of leading to the overall negation of the phenomenon of “musicality” in literature. From one side, Szulc precisely limits the problematics of the studied phenomena to a literary work (“the basic subject to which the group of considerations is applied here – is literary work”74), from the other however, in the methodological dimension, he situates work in the sphere of literary research (“The question that this is about is not a musicological issue”75). In reality, he sets out a constellation of strictly co-dependent aspects: ontological (literary research model) and competence (literary research perspective). One of the key actions seems to be theoretical reflection concerning ontology and competence in contemporary musical-literary studies because it is possible to define the optics and construct an appropriate discourse based on the type of understanding of these various types of categories. Szulc’s whole concept is based on this in a special way – negative argumentation concerns both the competence of researchers and ontology of a literary work at the same time. More precisely, the central issue of Muzyka w dziele literackim is revealed in two aspects: “critical statements” and “‘musical ←33 | 34→form’ of a literary work”76. The disproportions in their treatment can be seen at the first glance; as far as the essential place is taken by the review and evaluation of critical statements, at the same time a completely marginal position is given to the structure of a literary work.

The general perspective of criticism is determined by the basic assumption that “musicality” is not the effect of mutual references between elements of different arts (literature and music), but it results exclusively from different varieties of research metaphorisation. It is easy to see that a lack of wider reflection on “musical” structures in literature is the result of purely biased action, for these types of literary cases were well-known to Szulc, as were proposals to interpret them and to attempts to theoretically organise them77. Perfunctory information appears in the final parts of the dissertation in connection with the research on the musical type of construction of a literary work; Oskar Walzel is recognised as their representative exponent. The important distinctions from Gehalt und Gestalt im Kunstwerk des Dichters, which are only sketchily outlined, essentially concern musical literary structures. This is mainly about Walzel’s reference to Schiller’s three-part typology of “music in literature”, in which the musical construction of a literary work takes central place78 alongside two issues, namely the auditory-acoustic effects of music and its expressive understanding. Szulc does not maintain that these reflections are completely free of academic skepticism (in fact, a methodological battle always surrounds it79), but he immediately counterattacks, recalling in advance the predictable result of Kleiner’s conclusion about the “musical composition” of Balladyna80.

Looking through the prism of the functioning of a musical work81 the non-existence of musical entanglements in literature is supposed to show the variant of considering a literary work as a potentially unchangeable artistic object and a variable aesthetic object (after Gustav Theodor Fechner, Stanisław ←34 | 35→Ossowski and Władysław Tatarkiewicz). The optics here are driven by the psychological dimension and hence Stanisław Furmanik immediately accused Szulc of “psychological error”82 (and Szulc in turn Furmanik – of cultivation of “persistent psychologism” …83). The fundamental division into that which is “artistic” (“objective”), and that which is “aesthetic” (“subjective”), gives a general question: “is it possible to talk about the musicality of a literary work, as we meet at every turn, particularly in our scholars of literature – and also in others”84. To say differently: Szulc places the artistic object methodologically in the centre of interest85, but nevertheless, he formulates insights about this theme indirectly, based first and foremost on “critical statements”. Review of the material – supported by logical procedures – constitutes the final argument that a literary work does not create experiences corresponding to those of the aesthetic musical object. However in this perspective, any question about the existence of “musical directives” in the construction of a literary artistic object or about “‘musical form’ of a literary work”86 becomes rhetorical. Hence some solutions from today’s point of view seem exaggerated, in relation especially to the proof (using strictly logical apparatus), that the only possible methodological basis in the study of the relationship of a literary work with music is analogy87, but this only leads to conclusions which are logically false88. Starting from the criticism proposal and research of literary historians shows the intended marginalisation of the aspect of “‘musical form’ of a literary work”89. The dissertation outlines such a line of argumentation, that selectively recalling important facts, first indicates the historical source of the tendency to spread from the field of aesthetics, and then negatively evaluates the worth of the interpretation arrangements of some literary studies.

The genesis of “musicality”

Szulc described the conditions determining the genesis of “musicality” in literature in a factual way: firstly, by sketching the relationship of the phenomenon with the eighteenth century state of opera together with the dispute between ←35 | 36→buffonists and anti-buffonists (“Lettre sur la musique françoise”90 by Rousseau in the year 1753); secondly, by stressing the precursory theoretical postulates concerning the existence of the synthesis of arts (the concept of the music drama as a result of combining equally important elements: poetry, music and decorations; Stefano Arteaga, Le rivoluzioni del teatro musicale italiano, dalla sua origine fino al presente, 1783), raised to the rank of fundamental by Wagner91; thirdly, by indicating artistic material, the proposals of Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann and Carl Maria von Weber. Juxtaposition of diffuse historical facts makes it possible to formulate an unambiguous thesis with considerable consequences: “it was enough for the proper conditions to arise, and the poets themselves began to strive to ‘musicify’ their works, and began to believe that their poetic work was closely related to musical phenomena. […] The conditions spoken about here define romanticism and all the later trends, which have a basic common bond with it: in musical sensitivity, based on the romantic idea of the world and art lies the genesis of the illusion that musical directives supposedly exist in a literary work”92. Unifying thinking about art, rooted in romantic irrationalism in turn with Schleiermacher (the idea of infinity), Schelling (art revealing the absolute), Hegel and Schopenhauer, founded the arguments for the creation of not only idealistic music aesthetics, but also indirectly – somehow ricocheting – musical tendency in poetry.

The basic conclusions in Muzyka w dziele literackim are derived from the assumption that “musicality” does not apply to poetry, but it comes from the “musical sensitivity of romantic poets”93 (for example Novalis or Tieck); in other words, it only has a psychological, worldview-aesthetic character94. Szulc illustrates this with many examples, following the biographical trope in the ←36 | 37→direction of Polish Romanticism – he recalls the case of Mickiewicz’s musical circle of friends (and Maria Szymanowska), mentions his composition together with Kozłowski to Bohdan Zaleski’s dumka95, quotes fragments from Paris lectures96; he shows Słowacki’s witty comments in his letters to his mother about the Paris stagings of Meyerbeer’s97 Robert le Diable or La muette de Portici by Auber98; and hints at Krasiński’s historiosophical treatment of music. A similar interpretation includes the recurrence of the general tendency and the next expansion phase of postulates concerning the “musicality” of literature in Young Poland’s artistic manifestos, modifying the romantic approach to the world and art. Przybyszewski believed that the enigmatic context in the perception of his works imposed the postulatively formulated ideal of the unity of arts on the recipient, as for example at the end of Zur Psychologie des Individuums (1891): “neue Kunst ausgehen, eine Kunst, die aufhört in verschiedene Zweige getrennt zu werden […]”99. As a result Confiteor is associated with the idea of infinity, and Wigilie with the idea of “yearning”100.

Based on an overview sketch Szulc proved that French Romanticism is characterised by a completely different kind of musical sensitivity to that of other European Romanticisms – that it is above all anti-intellectual (here the examples are Madame de Staël and Stendhal, for whom music is “the least intellectual of all arts”101) and rather avoiding German idealism. Otherwise, his reference to the arguments of Fernand Baldensperger in Sensibilité musicale et romantisme (Paris 1925) in this matter bluntly shows selective treatment of ←37 | 38→the material and a biased approach to the complex issue of “musicality”. The important case of Chateaubriand is completely omitted; meanwhile, according to Baldensperger, not only Madame de Staël and Stendhal, as Szulc proposes, but also Chateaubriand, form “three fundamental sensibilities”102 [les trois sensibilités maîtresses] characterising French Romanticism. What’s more, there is a certain interdependence between them – Stendhal for example, in terms of the type of sensitivity, is placed in very clear opposition to Chateaubriand103. The most important, however, is that Baldensperger does not stop at the ambiguous and enigmatic concept of “musical sensibility”, that he searches for its poetic specifics. And precisely in this context, he uses the term “musicality”, primarily defining the colloquial understanding of melody, linguistic “‘melodic’ effects”104 [effets “mélodiques”], secondarily – aspects of a literary work. Baldensperger recalls it with reference to Lamartine’s Méditations (“in a manner not too glaring”105 – in Szulc’s opinion), amongst others, to determine the rigour of the new poetic order106, that is breaking the traditional alexandrine and introducing versification modifications.

Criticism of the research

In the review of the dissertation Konstanty Regamey wrote, “Szulc in principle – for even purely methodological reasons – is opposed to any discussion about ‘musicality’ of poetry or prose […]”107. The whole polemic boils down to a compilation overview of numerous individual methodologies, in order to then question the phenomenon of literary “musicality”, and after define this as an effect of the psychological perception of a literary work. The problem appears first and foremost through bringing in the statements of various researchers who use musical terminology subjectively, with great freedom utilising terms such as: “‘musical composition’, ‘contrapuntal structure’, ‘musical logic’”108. Such ←38 | 39→methodologically undertaken variants of criticism turn out to be the most effective in realising the main purpose of the dissertation – all negative conclusions are best formulated based on competence criteria. It is therefore worth taking a closer look at the pre-war tendency in literary studies.

Many opinions were formed about the musical nature of the dramas by the creator of Akropolis [Acropolis] many years before publishing the unfinished Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego [Music in Wyspiański’s Work], where Tadeusz Makowiecki speaks very cautiously about the relationship between the playwright and Wagner109. Walery Gostomski observes the “musicality of Wyspiański’s poems”110 and the relationship of the author with music in general, hence Wesele [The Wedding], for example, is for him “like a great poetic symphony”; Wacław Borowy proposes using the phrase “literary music”111 (to which Karol Wiktor Zawodziński112 returns several times on the rights of an atypical exegete) in belief, that in Noc listopadowa [November Night]: “Musical logic constantly dominates over literary logic”113; Stanisław Lack, treating the terms “musicality” and “poetry” as synonyms, often deploys musical analogies (for example between Wyspiański and Beethoven114), after all, in Wyspiański: “The starting point is always musical […]”115. On another occasion Ignacy Matuszewski – in accordance with the division into two fundamental types of creators (“plastic, visual type and musical, auditory type”116) – wrote about Słowacki’s musical psyche (“mood-music singer”117); otherwise he calls everything which is “artistic”, “musical” (expressions of the type: “music-effusive elements”118 and – related to Anhelli [Anhelli] – “impression of symphony”119); Bronisław Chlebowski, who was willing to add the name “musicality” to all Romantic works, sees parallelism in W Szwajcarii [In Switzerland] with Chopin’s120 Impromptu and Fantasie. Juliusz Kleiner (monograph Juliusz Słowacki: Dzieje twórczości [Juliusz Słowacki: History of Creative Work]) is a little like with Matuszewski, although in the subtle belief of the first (“music did not stimulate Słowacki to poetic creativity […]”121) musical terminology defines artistry and sublimity at the same time. In Szulc’s opinion: “even if in all other mentioned environments and artistic creations there was not even a trace of musical tendency in literature – nevertheless, the problem of musicality of a literary work would still be valid due to Kleiner’s constant use of explaining literary phenomena with the help of music”122. Naming Balladyna by the literary historian as a “musical humoresque” met with crushing criticism in the article preceding Muzyka w dziele literackim123. This time, Szulc criticised the author of work on Mickiewicz (pub. Lwów 1934; Kleiner also retained an exceptional inclination to interpret literary issues there using musical terminology) for treating many of Słowacki’s works as “musical aesthetic objects”124.

The manner of undertaking a review of positions raises some objections on account of the evaluation of proposals for interpreting musical-literary affiliations. Let us take two examples. Szulc does not find convincing enough conclusions in any of the literature scholars, although his approbation – because of general ←40 | 41→skepticism – is won by Józef Ujejski125. This is an interesting matter, for both the differentiation and language of description in the book about Malczewski126, where the author himself explains the non-existence of broader penetration of musical contexts through limited competence127, do not differ from the customs adopted in the era of searching for analogy between literature and music. At the same time, there is a curious lack of remarks about Manfred Kridl’s general but important comments, published in Wstęp do badań nad dziełem literackim [Introduction to Research on a Literary Work] (it is possible that Szulc did not manage to get acquainted with the work published in Vilnius in 1936). Kridl stipulates use of other sciences as suitable aid in analysing a literary work, but nevertheless warns against falling into “‘universality’, seizing everything that is possible, and operating with all of this in a dilettante manner”128. In the reflection on widening the competences Kridl is accompanied by full awareness of the fundamental distinctiveness of literature from other types of art (the ontological incompatibility of fields of aesthetics) and considerable dangers in their mutual explanation129. Undoubtedly, perfunctory formulations characterise the researcher with hermetic optics and on account of his primary strategy, one can reasonably argue, as Maria Podraza-Kwiatkowska, that Szulc’s dissertation in a sense constitutes an extension of his thesis130. Much more can be said at the same time taking into account the suggestions concerning “contact points”131 between general aesthetics and the study of literature, namely that Kridl – in a completely unintentional manner – anticipates the eclectic formula (amongst others contemporary music-literary research) and in this dimension there is no recognition of the author of Muzyka w dziele literackim.


These two polarly opposite research strategies, on one side Szulc’s, on the other for example Kleiner’s, should be treated in a wider sense as mutually exclusive, extremely distant possibilities of activity: either overly affirmative or overly negative. The first type of research creates attempts to clarify the essence of the literary work (especially escaping scientific description) in the course of impressional associations, through analogies with music. For literary specificity, as in the case of criticism, an ennobling comparatum is sought which makes free use of terminological borrowings from different areas of reflection, including music theory, amongst others. In the majority of cases such considerations, clearly distinguishable by a high degree of metaphorisation of the discourse, must be regarded today as of little value and rather deprived of the status of science. In turn the second type of research, the academic character132 of which is difficult to refuse in Szulc’s version, remains very limited due to its a priori negativity (hence the tiny number of similar studies). If, therefore, we agree today with the conclusion that his assessment of the disputed matter is characterised by excessive severity133, a methodological compromise beyond the search for analogy in the logical sense becomes necessary, and so as Regamey proposed – beyond discerning the “identicality”134 between literature and music.

In other words, the form of contemporary literary research, which can be applied in any dimension to musical-literary studies undertaken from the perspective of literature, is determined by the arguments put forward generally from two opposing positions: accepting or negating potential connections between a literary work and music. On the line general aesthetics – detailed aesthetics (eclectic strategy – hermetic strategy)135 there is an immanent conflict of reference points, awareness of which limits the field of positive constatations, and most often leads to the negative formulations. Characteristically, the hermetic strategy effectively closes the problem sphere in the same place in which the eclectic strategy makes it possible to define a potential research area. In the first case, the need for a wider explanation of the adopted position, for understandable reasons, appears extremely rarely and – as the example of Szulc shows – in a radical form. Since the research model almost always determines conditional acceptance, in the second case, the very necessity of introducing the clausula determines the scale of problematisation. Makowiecki’s position, who ←42 | 43→puts forward suggestions about the existence of analogous elements136 would be an exemplification of the eclectic behaviour and the formula of “searching” for solutions. Therefore in the context of Szulc this is not about the total negation of the hypotheses put forward in the thesis, nor the diminishing or excessive exposure of their meaning, nor even explaining the radical character exclusively in the historical plane. Negative criticism can be taken in the belief that it is possible to formulate conclusions regarding the scope and perspectives of musical-literary research on such a theoretical foundation (maximalist option), or more carefully: without entering into direct collision with it (minimalistic option). With certain assumptions, negative conclusions may in many respects be maintained as a starting point or an entry into the aporetical space of musical filiations with a literary work. In this light, Szulc’s proposal to remove the problem of “musicality” from literary studies paradoxically constitutes a preliminary ordering of the wider issue in the metatheory plane137, because he excludes the impressional type of pre-war studies from its area.

The specifics of Polish historical and theoretical literary studies concerning the relationship between literature and music is characterised not only by its two-aspect nature, but – as a result – in a sense, also biphasalism. The two-aspect nature determines the researcher’s position in the theoretical sense and generally shows his positive or negative stand in relation to the issues of intersemiotic (intermedial) relations; biphasalism, in turn, introduces the simplest type of periodisation, reveals a caesura in the research tradition falling on the period of Szulc’s activity in the mid nineteen-thirties. It is not possible to deny the extremely shallow and non-critical interest in the question “before Szulc” – on the other hand, a period of research skepticism or the most cautious approach to the ways of addressing the issue and the adoption of an appropriate discourse starts “after Szulc”. Today the delineation of an acceptable area of musical-literary research in the context of an extremely negative argumentation seems at first devoid of sense. However, it is not possible in contemporary research into affiliations of a literary work with music to not resign from discussion of either exact correspondence or formulating sensu stricto analogies. If, therefore, a Polish tradition of precursory musical-literary studies exists, undertaken from ←43 | 44→the side of literature and still able to inspire, then with certainty its origins reach back not to Kleiner, Tenner and Zawodziński. The post-war stage of this research undoubtedly starts under the aegis of Szulc’s dissertation, which quite effectively paralyses attempts to analyse the musical-literary borderland, and at the same time is a perfect pretext to undertake this task. After all, in the final analysis Muzyka w dziele literackim, against the fundamental thesis, does not eliminate the problem, because it opens one of the basic spheres of his research – the plane of thematisation of music in a literary work138.

48As the author of only one book that interests us here, and a few of the later mentioned pre-war articles, Tadeusz Szulc remains a very enigmatic figure in Polish scholarship, with an almost unknown biography. Most probably he was connected to the musical scene of Poznań, as evidenced in the review text of the second volume of the studies Dziesięć wieków Poznania: “Muzyka [in Poznań] w latach 1870–1918” (pp. 263–273; co-authored by Gwidon Chmarzyński) and the noted position in the bibliography included therein by Kornel Michałowski: “Szulc T., Życie muzyczne Poznania w latach 1900–1939 [memoires]” (p. 274). His name – along with various explanations, amongst others: “critic”, “Doctor, music activist”, “literary man” – appears in bibliographic listings extremely rarely, sometimes next to the identical surname of his namesake, his contemporary “violinist”.

49T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim, “Studia z zakresu historii literatury polskiej”, No. 14, Warsaw: Skład Główny w Kasie im. Mianowskiego, 1937, p. 84.

50See T. Makowiecki, “Poezja a muzyka,” in: idem, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, Toruń: Towarzystwo Naukowe w Toruniu, 1955, p. 1.

51See K. Regamey, “Tadeusz Szulc: ‘Muzyka w dziele literackim’,” in: Ateneum, 3 (1939): p. 522 ff; T. Makowiecki, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, pp. 1–2.

52See T. Makowiecki, pp. 1–29.

53S. Dąbrowski, “‘Muzyka w literaturze’: (Próba przeglądu zagadnień),” in: Poezja, 3 (1980): p. 23.

54T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim, p. 1.

55See K. Regamey, op. cit.; H. Dubowik, “Literatura – muzyka – plastyka: Analogie i kontrasty,” in: Szkice z historii i teorii literatury, ed. J. Konieczny, Poznań: PWN, 1971, pp. 6–7; J. Opalski, “O sposobach istnienia utworu muzycznego w dziele literackim,” in: idem, Chopin i Szymanowski w literaturze dwudziestolecia międzywojennego, Kraków: PWM, 1980, pp. 11–16; S. Dąbrowski, “‘Muzyka w literaturze’: (Próba przeglądu zagadnień),” pp. 21, 24 ff.

56See amongst others: K. Górski, “Przedmowa,” in: T. Makowiecki, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, pp. V–VI; T. Makowiecki, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, pp. 1–2; K. Górski, “Muzyka w opisie literackim,” in: Życie i Myśl, 1–6 (1952): p. 91, reprint in: idem, Z historii i teorii literatury, Wrocław: PWN, 1959, p. 346; S. Żak, “O kompozycji ‘Cudzoziemki’ Marii Kuncewiczowej,” in: Ruch Literacki, 1 (1970): p. 51; J. Błoński, “Ut musica poësis?,” in: Twórczość, 9 (1980): p. 110; S. Dąbrowski, “‘Muzyka w literaturze’: (Próba przeglądu zagadnień),” p. 24 ff; J. Opalski, op. cit., pp. 11–16 (see also abbreviated version of the sketch in: Pogranicza i korespondencje sztuk, “Z dziejów form artystycznych w literaturze polskiej”, vol. 56, ed. T. Cieślikowska, J. Sławiński, Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1980, pp. 53–54, 58); M. Głowiński, “Literackość muzyki – muzyczność literatury,” in: Pogranicza i korespondencje sztuk, pp. 78–79; J. Skarbowski, Literatura – muzyka: Zbliżenia i dialogi, Warsaw: Czytelnik, 1981, pp. 156–157; Cz. Zgorzelski, “Elementy ‘muzyczności’ w poezji lirycznej,” in: Prace ofiarowane Henrykowi Markiewiczowi, ed. T. Weiss, Kraków: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1984, p. 8; M. Głowiński, “Literatura a muzyka,” in: Słownik literatury polskiej XX wieku, ed. A. Brodzka, M. Puchalska, M. Semczuk, A. Sobolewska, E. Szary-Matywiecka, Wrocław–Warsaw–Kraków: Ossolineum, 1992, p. 551; J. Dembińska-Pawelec, “Jak słuchać prozy Jarosława Iwaszkiewicza? O muzyczności ‘Nieba’,” in: Skamander, vol. 9: Twórczość Jarosława Iwaszkiewicza: Interpretacje, ed. I. Opacki, A. Nawarecki, Katowice: Uniwersytet Śląski, 1993, p. 19.

57T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim, p. 31.

58T. Szulc, “Muzyka w dziele literackim,” in: Pion, 28 (1935): p. 2.

59“Recently, Mr. Tadeusz Szulc addressed this issue, attempting to introduce some order into the chaos of concepts and views on the subject. The attempt, unfortunately, was completely unsuccessful and can only deepen the muddle […]”. S. Furmanik, “Dzieło literackie a muzyka,” in: Pion, 37 (1935): p. 5.

60Ibidem, p. 6.

61T. Szulc, “Malum musicale: Odpowiedź P. St. Furmanikowi,” in: Pion, 43 (1935): p. 8.

62See T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 43.

63E. Kucharski, “O metodę estetycznego rozbioru dzieł literackich,” in: Pamiętnik Literacki (1923): p. 35. Later, in light of the postulatively formulated poetic programme, Tadeusz Peiper maintained a similar view, demanding the isolation of the rhythm of poetry from folk song, to eliminate “barrel-organ harmonies” from poetry. See T. Peiper, Nowe usta: Odczyt o poezji, Lwów: Nakładem Towarzystwa Wydawniczego “Ateneum”, 1925, pp. 41, 43. See also: idem, Tędy, Warsaw: Nakład Księgarni F. Hoesicka, 1930, p. 88; idem, “O dźwięczności i rytmiczności,” in: Pion, 21 (1935): pp. 2–3. As a result, the negative theoretical tendency is defined by Maria Podraza-Kwiatkowska – in the context of Peiper – with the name “antimusical” direction in literary research. See M. Podraza-Kwiatkowska, “O muzycznej i niemuzycznej koncepcji poezji,” in: Teksty, 2 (1980): p. 90 ff.

64T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 40.

65The problem is quite complex even in the case of just Karol Wiktor Zawodziński, who introduces, for example, the division into “internal musicality” and “‘external’ musicality”. See K. W. Zawodziński, “Najśpiewniejszy poeta,” in: Przegląd Współczesny, 10 (1936): p. 120. See also idem, “Pegaz, to nie samochód bezkołowy,” in: Skamander, 57 (1935): p. 13.

66See J. Tenner, “O pierwiastkach muzycznych w poezji Słowackiego,” in: Biblioteka Warszawska, 1 (1910): pp. 520–522.

67See B. Schulz, “Aneksja podświadomości (Uwagi o ‘Cudzoziemce’ Kuncewiczowej),” in: Pion, 17 (1936): pp. 2–3.

68Cz. Zgorzelski, op. cit., p. 8.

69J. Kleiner, “Muzyka w życiu i twórczości Słowackiego,” in: Biblioteka Warszawska, 2 (1909): p. 289.

70T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 37.

71See H. Markiewicz, Polska nauka o literaturze, Warsaw: PWN, 1985, p. 226.

72The Szulcian concept of music is directly related to this and formulated in another place following Eduard Hanslick’s asemantic theory Vom Musikalisch-Schönen: Ein Beitrag zur Revision der Ästhetik der Tonkunst, Leipzig: Rudolph Weigel, 1854 (see E. Hanslick, The Beautiful in Music: A Contribution to the Revisal of Musical Aesthetics, trans. G. Cohen, London–New York: Novello–H. W. Gray, 1891); see C. Dahlhaus, “Eduard Hanslick und der musikalische Formbegriff,” in: Die Musikforschung, 20 (1967): pp. 145–153. See T. Szulc, “Muzyka i teatr,” in: Przegląd Współczesny, 154 (1935): p. 301 ff.

73T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 1.



76Ibidem, pp. 36, 78–83.

77Studies, among others, by Oskar Walzel (Gehalt und Gestalt im Kunstwerk des Dichters, Berlin–Neubabelsberg: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft Athenaion MBH, 1923) and Ronald Peacock (Das Leitmotiv bei Thomas Mann, “Sprache und Dichtung”, vol. 55, Bern: Paul Haupt, 1934).

78See O. Walzel, “Musikalische Dichtung,” in: idem, op. cit., pp. 347–349. T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 35.

79Ibidem, p. 85.

80Ibidem, p. 81–82.

81Regamey put forward the objection here of an “unjust definition of music”. See K. Regamey, op. cit., p. 525.

82S. Furmanik, op. cit., p. 5.

83T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 53.

84Ibidem, p. 3.

85See ibidem, pp. 2–4, 85.

86Ibidem, p. 78.

87Ibidem, p. 55.

88Ibidem, p. 78.

89Ibidem, pp. 36, 78 ff.

90See J.-J. Rousseau, “Lettre sur la musique françoise,” in: idem, Oeuvres complètes, vol. 5: Écrits sur la musique, la langue et le théâtre, ed. B. Gagnebin, M. Raymond, Paris: Gallimard, 1995, pp. 287–328 (see J.-J. Rousseau, “Letter on French Music,” in: idem, Essay on the Origin of Languages and Writings Related to Music, trans. J. T. Scott, Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College–University Press of New England, 1998, pp. 141–174).

91Szulc probably owed a lot here to the review article by Zdzisław Jachimecki, “Stefano Arteaga i Ryszard Wagner jako teoretycy dramatu muzycznego,” in: Przegląd Muzyczny, 11 (1912): pp. 1–9; 12 (1912): pp. 1–6; 14/15 (1912): pp. 1–5.

92T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], pp. 6–7.

93Ibidem, p. 13. See also T. Szulc, “Artystyczne idee radiowe i ich geneza,” in: Przegląd Współczesny, 198 (1938): p. 46 ff.

94T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 14.

95See Mickiewicz’s letter to Bohdan Zaleski (Lausane, 7 I 1840). A. Mickiewicz, Listy, part 2, Warsaw: SW Czytelnik, 1955, pp. 307–308 (in particular footnote 3, p. 308).

96The relationship between poetry and music was the starting point for the XIII lecture of the second course. See A. Mickiewicz, Literatura słowiańska: Kurs drugi, trans. L. Płoszewski, Warsaw: SW Czytelnik, 1955, pp. 169–171.

97See letter dated: Paris, 10 XII 1831. J. Słowacki, Listy do matki, ed. Z. Krzyżanowska, Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Zakładu Narodowego im. Ossolińskich, 1952, pp. 40–41.

98See letter dated: Paris, 7 III 1832. Ibidem, p. 49.

99S. Przybyszewski, Zur Psychologie des Individuums: I. Chopin und Nietzsche, Berlin: Fontane & Co, 1892, p. 47.

100An example of Kazimierz Czachowski’s wording: “Longing directed him to music. […] Already in his first works, for example in Wigilie (1894), gave beautiful poetic transcriptions of Chopin’s sounds”. K. Czachowski, Obraz współczesnej literatury polskiej 1884–1933, vol. 1: Naturalizm i neoromantyzm, Lwów: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Książek Szkolnych, 1934, p. 244.

101Quotation after: F. Baldensperger, Sensibilité musicale et romantisme, Paris: Les Presses Françaises, 1925, p. 65.

102Ibidem, p. 68.

103Ibidem, p. 64. Nota bene this fact is clearly emphasised by the layout of subsequent chapters: in so far as chapter 4 deals with Madame de Staël (pp. 47–59), the next concerns simultaneously both Stendhal and Chateaubriand, and in the summary also Madame de Staël (pp. 61–69).

104Ibidem, p. 41.

105T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 26.

106F. Baldensperger, op. cit., p. 118.

107K. Regamey, op. cit., p. 521.

108T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 36.

109Makowiecki’s conclusions (in agreement with Przemysław Mączewski’s formulae) are quite unambiguous: Wagner’s influence on Wyspiański is overestimated, in fact he is pushed to “the third plane” (see T. Makowiecki, Poeta-malarz: Studium o Stanisławie Wyspiańskim, Warsaw: Towarzystwo Literackie im. A. Mickiewicza, Instytut Wydawniczy “Biblioteka Polska”, 1935, p. 239) and limited to Legenda (see T. Makowiecki, “Libretta i dramaty młodości. ‘Legion’,” in: idem, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, p. 38). See P. Mączewski, “Wyspiański a Wagner,” in: Myśl Narodowa, 43 (1929): p. 217.

110W. Gostomski, “Arcytwór dramatyczny Wyspiańskiego: ‘Wesele’,” in: Pamiętnik Literacki (1908): p. 309.

111W. Borowy, Łazienki a “Noc Listopadowa”, Warsaw: Skład w Księgarni W. Jakowickiego, 1918, pp. 8, 13.

112See K. W. Zawodziński, “Wyspiański w świetle teorii Wacława Borowego,” in: Wiadomości Literackie, 1 (1929): p. 2. See also idem, “Na marginesie jubileuszu Wyspiańskiego,” in: Droga, 9 (1933): pp. 775–793.

113W. Borowy, op. cit., p. 63.

114S. Lack, Studia o St. Wyspiańskim, selection and foreword S. Pazurkiewicz, Częstochowa: Księgarnia A. Gmachowskiego, 1924, p. 230 ff.

115Ibidem, p. 231.

116I. Matuszewski, Słowacki i nowa sztuka (modernizm), Warsaw: Gebethner i Wolff, 1902, p. 74 ff.

117Ibidem, p. 129.

118Ibidem, p. 289.

119Ibidem, p. 332. Similar terminology is used by Tadeusz Grabowski, making remarks about Stefan Żeromski: “language becomes essential singing, and pages language symphonies. […] The period is like a prelude”. T. Grabowski, Wstęp do nauki literatury, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem literatury polskiej, Lwów: Nakład i własność K. S. Jakubowskiego, 1927, pp. 74–75.

120B. Chlebowski, Literatura polska porozbiorowa, edited and foreword M. Kridl, second edition, Lwów: Wydawnictwo Zakładu im. Ossolińskich, 1935, p. 193.

121J. Kleiner, op. cit., p. 300.

122T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], pp. 45–46. See ibidem, pp. 47–52.

123See T. Szulc, “Muzyka w dziele literackim,” in: Pion, 28 (1935): p. 2.

124T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 50.

125Ibidem, pp. 51–53.

126See J. Ujejski, Antoni Malczewski: (Poeta i poemat), Warsaw: Nakładem Księgarni Trzaska-Evert-Michalski, 1921, pp. 386, 388, 389, 390.

127See ibidem, pp. 384, 390, 394.

128M. Kridl, Wstęp do badań nad dziełem literackim, “Z zagadnień poetyki”, No. 1, Vilnius: Z zasiłku Funduszu Kultury Narodowej, 1936, p. 197.

129Ibidem, pp. 198–199.

130See M. Podraza-Kwiatkowska, op. cit., p. 90.

131M. Kridl, op. cit., p. 198.

132See M. Głowiński, “Literackość muzyki – muzyczność literatury,” p. 78.

133See J. Błoński, op. cit., p. 110.

134K. Regamey, op. cit., p. 527.

135See S. Dąbrowski, “Wobec ‘Koncertów brandenburskich’ Stanisława Swena Czachorowskiego (z rozważań wprowadzających),” in: Ruch Literacki, 6 (1979): p. 459. See also idem, “‘Muzyka w literaturze’: (Próba przeglądu zagadnień),” pp. 20, 21.

136T. Makowiecki, Muzyka w twórczości Wyspiańskiego, p. 7.

137From the moment of its publication Muzyka w dziele literackim has been treated this way, as evidenced by the excerpt from the three-sentence review, published in Muzyka (1937, No. 7/8, p. 236): “Many of the author’s comments and conclusions are worthy of recognition and may contribute to the systematisation of concepts”.

138See T. Szulc, Muzyka w dziele literackim [monograph], p. 87. Therefore, the overall context of Szulc’s dissertation is most often referred to when considering the subject of thematisation of music in literature. See K. Górski, “Muzyka w opisie literackim,” p. 91. See also M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” in: Teksty, 2 (1980): p. 98.