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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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2 Musicality – musicality of a literary work


The first remarks about the musicality of a literary work should be limited to terminological issues and refer to the strict understanding of the concepts; meanwhile, the only definition of “musicality” which can be formulated at the outset presents itself extremely imprecisely – there is no single “musicality”139. In fact, to start any sensible theoretical-literary considerations, it is necessary to accept the existence of at least two of its antonymic and complementary sources in music, namely one from the circle of nature, the other from the circle of culture. Subsequently, the key problem arises of distinguishing between two parallel interdisciplinary meanings, proper and metaphorical, whose ranges relate to fundamentally separate ontological spaces, irreducible with respect to each other: musical work (the etymological meaning of the term) and literary work (etymological and rhetorical meaning)140. Understandably, from the perspective of literary research, the interest must primarily be in the meaning of “musicality” not as a feature immanently defining a piece of music (frequently very much like literariness – literary work), but, so to say, the meaning of the term transplanted to another field of the arts141. In such situations, this is always about taking ←45 | 46→terminology in a way that does not completely deprive it of the original notion of referentiality, that is, does not condemn it to non-referentiality or self-referentiality (characteristic of literary criticism). In literary studies, “musicality” is intended to suggest a certain but not more clearly determined source relationship between literature and music142, between a given author and...

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