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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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3 Description of music (between the poetic variant and the interdisciplinary variant)

3Description of music (between the poetic variant and the interdisciplinary variant)

Any filiations of a literary work with music provide an extremely ethereal and controversial area for research; one case which in the categorising academic description should not raise objections is only very generally defined. That is one of the basic variants of the defined musicality of a literary work – music as a literary theme, to date known in Polish scholarship as “music in literature”224, among other names, and in Western tradition as “verbal music”225. In the aspect of thematising, music has always occupied a neutral or exposed place in a literary work in this sense, that it never found itself among “objects surrounded with anathema”226. And indeed it is because of the specific ahistoricality or universality of the phenomenon that it is common to think of it as something completely obvious. Mainly for this reason the greatest number of proposals relating to the thematisation of music in literature arises (especially accidentally) in the field of literary considerations, which undoubtedly foretell a methodological stage of more specific musical-literary research. In this research dimension, we must agree with Maria Podraza-Kwiatkowska’s conclusion, that apart from impulses on the part of semiotics still: “Inspirations for comparative studies flow from – let’s call them generally – thematological methods”227. Unfortunately, this is very rarely accompanied by critical conviction, that such research in fact almost always sneaks into the area of direct or indirect connections of a given author with music ←69 | 70→in general or with a specific composer228, that they are moving away from the literary text, also from the musical work, and concern the consideration of aesthetic consciousness.

The ease of ordering (or, above all, paraphrasing) in the academic description of types of thematisation of music initially seems natural due to the wide space of parallels between different literary views. Research optimism also grows, when it is possible to see the places of the simplest type of thematisation of music in the specifics of literary notation, to locate literary descriptions in the first, linear view of the text. Of course, any description of music is merely the simplest case of thematising, which can take much more refined forms, for example in the sphere of symbolic meaning. But to show what kind of limitations are also reached by thematisation of music, the easiest – and possibly the most effective – route leads through examining a literary description of a musical work as an intersemiotic phenomenon229, more accurately, as a substitute for musical notation or a testimony eliminating the score.

Defining a literary description of music

Most generally, there are two types of descriptions of music in a literary work: interdisciplinary and poetic, informative and expressive; the first by assumption is a description of the object, of the musical work in the score, the second – a description of perspective and is considered a description of music (although in fact it has little in common with the musical work as an autodescription, a description of perception). The elementary form of thematisation presented by literary description of a musical work illustrates ←70 | 71→the real relationship between a literary work and a musical composition well – not just the obvious lack of direct ontological similarities, analogies, but the lack of adequate language of literary description. In this respect, no description of music is able to free itself from unintentional correlation: attempting explicite to break the barrier between both arts, to conventionally create “the reality effect230 [un effet de réel], above all shows fundamental distinctness, and, consequently, insufficiency of language resources. In consequence – because there is no universal literary way to embrace the vision of a musical work, that only individual presentations from precise perspectives are created ad hoc – no genre on the borderline between literature and music has historically developed, which would be the equivalent for example of hypotyposis or ekphrasis231. The phenomenon of such a musical description that would define the type of genre and would be equivalent to the effect of the conventionalised “‘painter’ description” [description “picturale”232] does not exist. On account of the perspective of the description every literary realisation maintains a fundamental individuality, amongst others also ingrained in the type of language used both in the historical sense, in the communicative sense, and as an artistic idiom. At the same time, there is some convergence between the descriptions ←71 | 72→of music233: the historical variety of literary techniques changes while the subject of the description (let’s say carefully – music) in a theoretical sense turns out to be ahistorical, unchanging or even topical (undoubtedly a kind of topos of indescribability functions in connection with the description of a musical work). In still other words, and in a broader context, increasingly modern forms of thematisation of music continue to refer to the classical subject, “classical” in a narrow sense, genological or genological-structural. Musical classics (Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert)234 still remain in the centre of interest of literature and undoubtedly contemporary musical works do not find application on such a scale precisely because of their formal ephemeral nature, ex definitione devoid of something which could be described as the classical order or a high degree of normativity.

The value of a detailed theoretical-literary diagnosis in this situation is dependent upon the understanding of the immanent complexity of the description in literature: firstly its specific object, secondly its perspective, thirdly and finally its functionalisation in a given text. The similarities between the objects of the description will further lead to striking observations in the consideration of the phenomenon, especially to the conclusion that the most frequently encountered description of music in literature (colloquially perceived as “expressive”235) does not concern and even avoids the musical work. To reveal the problem in its nuances236, I propose exemplification in the form of a fragment of a contemporary novel (Le Coeur absolu [The Unlimited Heart] by Philippe Sollers, 1987), combining most ←72 | 73→of the features not only characteristic for the description of a musical work and for the basic type of thematisation of music but for literary description, or even description in general237. Analysing the description of music on the basis of general text determinants of “developed and merged description”238 indirectly leads to a critical definition of thematisation of music in a literary work; not because thematisation itself did not show a kind of self-sufficiency, on the contrary – in accordance with the correct formula that everything can be the theme of literary expression, it does not show any fundamental restrictions (which undoubtedly exist) in the treatment of a musical work in literary categories239.

The description of music in a literary work immediately allows us to propose a simple and provocative hypothesis that for the most part it is not a description of a musical work. If it undertakes such an attempt, it approaches a purely musicological argument240, which strongly distinguishes itself through the use of “technical” language which causes limitations to its clarity241. Much more frequently, however, the description of music is a manifestation of mystification: in the best case, it is looking for a pretext for a loose commentary, to create an (over)interpretations of the programmaticity of a musical work, and it usually develops around a completely different theme. In the first situation, the description defines both the subject and the perspective of the view, its primary function is informative (particularly when we take it interdisciplinarily in its finished state); in the second it first and foremost defines the perspective where the expressive function becomes dominant. It should be stated in a harsher form that a musical work in certain aspects turns out to be an extremely difficult (impossible?) subject for literary description, that it escapes beyond the limits of proper approach to literature and this is why it more often functions in a literary work ←73 | 74→in the sphere of allusions and suppressions, understatements, symbols, etc. They reveal themselves, I do not hesitate to say, as typical, but nevertheless, direct types of thematisation of music (amongst others in the dimension of symbolic meanings in the broadest sense of the word), conditioned by the non-existence of intersemiotic translation242.

The actual character of description as a basic form of thematisation of music can be derived from the division of literary descriptions, once proposed by Konrad Górski243, into two fundamental types: of a musical work (in general, be this as a real musical composition, or as an element of literary fiction244) and the reaction of the listener and performer. A very subtle but important difference decides about the dichotomy between the two ways in which music appears in literature, because this ultimately determines their separate forms. For while the first variant would be close to the literary bi-text or border with it (although in the traditional and most-widespread version, it would be its verbal substitute), the latter exists only in language specifics. In other words, one variant, in extreme form is ontologically paraliterary (or non-literary at the time of intersemiotic quotation of the musical score) – the second is apparently paramusical (properly non-musical), despite using all rhetorical operations to attempt to take over the physical space of musical effects. Remaining with the first, the para-literariness of the description of a musical work manifests itself as bipolar and in both variants to some extent in a mediated manner. In essence what can be called para-literariness consists of the existence of musical notation in the sphere of presupposition at the moment of describing a real work, whereas in a situation of a fictitious composition on a complex relationship to the musical object of inspiration or on its suspension. The first case seems sufficiently clear in itself, the second one requires more detailed explanation, because it then creates a special kind of reception difficulty. Or we get, to give it the name “musical referentiality”, when the relationships with a particular musical prototype are partially blurred, but it is possible to search for a pattern (models) and para-literariness is the ←74 | 75→result of analytical-interpretive efforts245, or “musical quasi-non-referentiality”, when a musical piece is described in general as a composition that is not defined in reality, one of the elements of literary creation. However, the lack of a directly revealed pattern does not mean that it does not exist – the description of a musical work in literature always has a musical equivalent (work, cycle), consciously indicated expressis verbis or not. Arguments are taken from this to maintain the appearances of reality of the composition in the space of the presented world, even in a minimal dimension by using specific musical terminology, appropriate for the given cultural circle (the description of a fictitious creation then functions in the semiotic sense as an index246). The degree of disclosure or concealment of the source of inspiration ultimately determines the importance of functionalising a particular description in the scale of the whole text, a good example of which are descriptive fragments of Le Coeur absolu by Philippe Sollers. In this light, it is not without significance whether the presented musical work is real, whether it additionally updates its own cultural space, necessary for some reason within the literary text, or whether it does not even exist in real life, that is it is enough only as an object of literary fiction.

Description of a musical work or perception?

(Philippe Sollers, Le Coeur absolu)

As literary description of music mainly operates with language material and is always intended to be in a certain sense explanatory, and sometimes even parodying in its explanation, firstly, so to say, moves the centre of orientation from the musical work itself to the external conditions of its realisation in actio (most often a description of the musicians’ characters), secondly – from these conditions to the reception and reaction of the listener, thus in a more secure region of showing human expressive influence on the arts247. It deforms the shape of the prototype in a schematic manner, explains pars pro toto, especially through calling up very varied musical terms. However, this is not because of the specificity of the musical work, but for expressing the mood, the characterisation of the environment and the characters, etc.; in short, primarily on account of the colouration of the depicted world implied by the narrative play.

Analysis of a descriptive fragment from Le Coeur absolu by Philippe Sollers briefly touches upon the details related to the functionalisation of the description of music in the novel248, refers to the internal mechanism and the formation of one coherent description from two which are stylistically different. Their stylistic separateness is an external symptom of allowing different descriptive figures and subsequent shifts of the orientation point within the entire description from the object to the perspective of its overview. Undoubted advantages of such a structure of description have a common source both in the author’s high awareness concerning aspects of the existence of a musical work in literature (and in general musical-literary filiations), as well as considerable literary finesse, that is the possibilities of their language interpretation in the narrative field249. The example here is also interesting for another reason: a specific musical work becomes a functionalised, “wholesome” object of thematisation, which means – paraphrasing Michał Głowiński – that at the same time it remains clearly entangled in the story (reminiscences of the concerto in various places in the novel), and both constitutes a direct theme of expression (it also reveals the central point – “the exact centre of the novel”250), and finally accumulates certain symbolic meanings (through the repeatedly recurring title description, le coeur absolu [the unlimited heart], and its cultural connotation in connection with a real musical piece)251. The most important hypothesis, based on descriptive fragments of Sollers’ novel, should be enclosed in two formulations, general and specific. First of all, the description of music in a literary work as the most basic form of thematisation is not stylistically uniform, it does not concern just a musical work, secondly, this same description – in linear development – may manifest itself through a kind of polyphony. Examination of this will be reduced to indicating the differences between the description of a musical work and the description of perception, not however in their isolation or static juxtaposition, but in dynamic interaction. Through following the conditions of the text, I will separate the rules for the formation of a mosaic construction, which explain the extent to which one description blends into the other and how they form an integrally overarching descriptive structure252.

The convention of frame of description

Le Pape est déja la, on attend la musique… Une réparation… Mozart… Le Quintette doit durer exactement vingt-trois minutes seize secondes. Allegro, Larghetto, Menuetto, Allegretto con variazioni, Adagio, Allegro. Marco, en smoking, est la vedette. Il s’avance dans le salon illuminé donnant sur le Grand Canal, il tousse un peu, il parle253.

The descriptive passage begins very traditionally, with an informative character telling about the presence of the Pope (John Paul II) among the listeners, about the performed repertoire and the behaviour of the leading musician. The first informative signals which herald the artistic event, and at the same time in the structural plane determine the general predictability of the descriptive scheme254, as well as serving to define the space and present the existing circumstances before the concert. Thus, the initial fragment takes on the shape of live coverage255: through broken sentences and understatement that present the atmosphere (the first symptoms of expressive functionalisation of ellipsis), through meticulous listing of particular movements of the Clarinet Quintet in A major, finally through topographic localisation (on the Grand Canal). Suggestions about the Quintet seem extremely clear and competent and may belong to a music enthusiast, or even a musician or music critic. There is, for example, a fascinating remark about the duration of the work – “twenty-three minutes and sixteen seconds”, a kind of ideal performance, having some undisclosed reference point256.

The notation of loud comments should visualise the currency of the situation, which is why all the information, though laconic, reveals further particulars precisely enough by means of calculating elements of the background. In a few words and using a conventional formula pars pro toto a basic plan or communication system is sketched (musical work – musician – listener): the “ideal” performance time of all parts of a real musical work (Clarinet Quintet in A major by Mozart, K.V. 581), the most important of its performers (Marco) and the most important of its listeners (the Pope). From the viewpoint of the entire novel, the inconspicuous beginning and even more concise ending of the description fulfil important functions in the organisation of text coherence. The descriptive prologue logically derives the essential part of the description from the narrative system and prepares its full field in anticipation; the descriptive epilogue in the structural sense has the opposite task, but nevertheless closes the description similarly, because it takes on the thematically known information schema (musicians – listener – musical work):

Ils se lèvent et saluent bien bas le Pape. Lequel va leur serrer la main en retenant un instant leurs mains. Révérence de Cecilia et de l’Anglaise. Vingt-trois minutes vingt secondes: un soupir de trop dans l’Adagio257.

Description of a musical work – interdisciplinary variant

Undoubtedly, the degree of interest in music composition in literature, expressed, amongst others, through the character and type of description, may indicate its intended exposure in the narrative hierarchy258. At the same time, the description of the musical work is rather too complex and dangerous – given that the correct horizon of music has nothing in common with the horizon of literature in the field of the updated paradigm it becomes necessary to refer to existing models from the conventional non-literary approach. It is easy to understand, why the musicological proposals can be so tempting259, and at the same time what kind of task it is necessary to face attempting to adapt an alien text in a literary work, while resigning from musical quotations illustrating it. The danger of literary consideration of a musical work through the prism of a scholarly convention (a description which is fundamentally musicological) basically results from the need to use specialist or “technical” language. In Le Coeur absolu an almost exemplary example of such a description is to be found, quite rarely found elsewhere in an equally condensed form, which is worth recalling in extenso:

«Le thème principal du mouvement initial est, avec ses accords brisés, plus adapté à la clarinette qu’au violon, bien que l’instrument à vent prenne d’abord nettement part à l’exposition thématique, traçant une figure sonore dont le rapport avec le thème ne se révèle qu’au cours du développement. En revanche, la clarinette considère que le thème secondaire mérite d’être commenté d’emblée.»

«Le développement donne lieu à un échange animé entre les cordes au-dessus desquelles la clarinette étend une ample ligne en ogive d’accords brisés. Dans la reprise, Mozart confie le thème principal à la clarinette dont le timbre contribue à le mettre en valeur.»

«Dans le mouvement lent, continue Marco, très sûr de lui, la sonorité de la clarinette domine, et c’est ici, Très Saint-Père, que l’instrument atteint la plus riche profusion de grâce mélodieuse. Le menuet, d’abord profilé thématiquement par l’instrument à vent, offre un détail spécifique d’exécution, avec la longue note tenue qu’aucun autre instrument n’est capable de jouer avec cette chaleur et cette rondeur sonore. Dans le mouvement final, écrit en variations, Mozart nous donne une véritable leçon dans l’art de jouer de la clarinette qui laisse deviner la virtuosité d’Anton Stadler à l’intention duquel il composa l’ouvrage: saut sur plus de deux octaves, – technique qui témoigne de la subtile connaissance qu’avait Mozart des formules de doigté en même temps qu’elle témoigne à coup sûr des conseils reçus de Stadler –, exploitation du registre grave, rempli sonore au moyen d’accords brisés, traits rapides sur toute l’étendu des trois registres. Il est pourtant frappant que Mozart, qui tire parti du grave jusqu’à la limite extrême de l’instrument, ne dépasse pas dans l’aigu le Ré 4…»

Marco souligne la dernière phrase comme s’il s’agissait d’un message codé à l’intention exclusive du Saint-Siège260.

The use of nomenclature terminology, and also the type the logic of the argument, caused by the enumerative261 course of the description of the movements of the Quintet, decide that this block of text looks more like a musicological working out rather than a literary one. The whole, clearly distinguished from the course of the narrative, adopts the form of lecture and imposes the canon of the academic manner of explaining the immanent morphology of Mozart’s work: starting from strict remarks about the linear process and the architectural layout of the composition (the specificity of individual movements), the possibilities of the clarinet and its dominant character (aspects of sonority), to the description of the technical difficulties of performance (Anton Stadler as the foreseen performer). In comparison with the fragment opening the description, especially with the following part, there are no ambiguities here; the constatations are not the result of impressions or intuitive assumptions, but the result of musical knowledge and analytical-interpretive effort. Observations are otherwise subject to verification, because the reasoning lays claim to be entitled to the objective description of the musical composition, i.e. in a literal sense that also retains analytical value outside the literary work. In the context of the first movement – sonata allegro, so characteristic in this place in classical music – there is discussion about the following elements of sonata form: exposition, development and recapitulation. The conceptualisation does not seem to be purely theoretical and also contains a formulation that the clarinet, developing the first theme in the exposition “with broken chords”, takes over the second theme from the violin262. And despite the lack of fragments of the score here to illustrate the commentary, every mentioned detail can be found and indicated in the score, not mentioning even the general layout of the four movements and the dominant aspects (like the clarinet’s melodiousness in the Larghetto). Characteristic for example for the clarinet in the Minuet: “a held long note, which no other instrument is able to give with such feeling and with such fullness of sound” – this is the pitch e2 (therefore g2 in notation)263 in bars 20–24264:

On the other hand, a couple of times in the Allegretto con Variazioni a “leap of over two octaves” – appears in bar 23 (d – e flat 2 – f sharp 2), in bars 25 and 27 (e – g sharp 2) and 73 and 75 (d – g sharp 2)265. Gradually considering the information in this way explains why the entry of this type of description into the narrative area is not done directly, but through quotation; later in turn, however, why could the passus not be revealed otherwise than only from someone competent. Undoubtedly, there are two important reasons: stylistic, for in the well-established indirectness of writing with quotation marks gives permission for the use of technical language (language difficult to assimilate in literature), and epistemological, because through this indirectness the fragment also gains authenticity and extra-literary verifiability. In direct consequence, the scientific argument, with the idea of explaining musical nuances, demands a lexical and at the same time encyclopedic competence from the receiver266, without which the allusions may not even be noticed. The best proof of this is a brilliant joke, camouflaged in Marco’s last sentence, about the extreme use of low pitches and not going beyond the pitch d4. The statement ex cathedra, that a given sound is not to be gone beyond in relation to a specific musical instrument, indicates in its literal meaning that it exists, i.e. the possibility of performing it exists. But what is the purpose of the italicisation of this particular fragment? Emphasising the few words of the commentary given without deeper consequences, or signaling important information between words? This typographic detail immediately focuses attention on itself and provokes further hypotheses, but remains ultimately illegible within the boundaries of literature. Explanation of this requires a non-literary, interdisciplinary context: or it is necessary to know, that the sounding range of the clarinet in A reaches from c sharp up to a3 (notated: ec4) and that the note d4 is outside the range of even the so-called the highest register of this instrument (g sharp 3 – c4), or – the longer road – review the score of the Clarinet Quintet A major and confirm that the highest note in the clarinet in the whole composition is barely c sharp 2. While the first part of the observation regarding the use of the lower register, otherwise preferred by Anton Stadler, turns out to be completely reliable (amongst others the note c sharp, the lowest in this register, returns many times), the final wording draws the recipient into a sophisticated intellectual game. In the subtext it becomes an allusion to Mozart and the excellent Viennese clarinetist for whom the work was written (initially named Stadler’s Quintett). And because the sarcastic conclusion goes beyond the current nature of the scholarly description, it does not inform directly, but through allusion, in and of itself it is neither true nor false – within the range of the loud commentary it is distinguished by the character of intonation, in the written record by typographic modification and suggestive note (“Marco stressed the last sentence, as if it were information encrypted with only the Holy See in mind”).

Description of perception – poetic variant

Technical language (reasonably treated in quotes) would seem inadequate and artificial in the narrative field in the long run267, hence, in the later stage of the description, a return to colloquial language is made, to the previous mode of description. Sollers exposes the change of optics in the strongest variant: along with a change in the perspective of the description of the musical work and the transition from the aspect of the score to the conditions of execution – he radically transforms not only the stylistics of expression, which is completely natural, but also displays the “side effects” of the operation. As a result, the anthropological and ontological foundation of description in general is revealed with full force because for colloquial language the reference point is no longer an autonomous musical work, but the perceptual space in which it exists in actio268. Instead, description of a self-contained artistic object is subject to the sphere of its perception, which can be seen in the longer passage connected to the situation of reception of Mozart:

Les cinq musiciens s’inclinent profondément… Sa Sainteté approuve gentiment… Applaudit un peu… L’air noir pénètre doucement dans le salon à travers les lauriers blancs, en pot, des balcons du palais… Vingt-trois minutes seize secondes… Demain, le Pape reprendra son avion, le Dante Alighieri frappé de ses armes.

Il y a donc Cecilia et un jeune homme très maigre à l’air fanatique au violon… Une blonde et rose Anglaise de passage à l’alto… Un solide barbu sombre et philosophe au violoncelle… Marco, enfin, élégant et blond, dont c’est le moment… Cecilia me fait un clin d’oeil, Liv et Sigrid sont l’une contre l’autre, émues…

Voilà, c’est parti… Un deux trois quatre… Cinq-six-sept-huit-neuf… Ils sont en barque sur la lagune… Ils s’éloignent fermement… Ils emmènent l’animal au large… Coq doux… Ils flottent, ils tournent sur leur éclatement d’axe… Ils vont l’égorger de partout, faire couler son sang… Pas de violence… Acceptation en douceur… Ligne d’horizon, ligne de ciel, trois mains et un pied, larynx… Argent des clefs, pied de nez et cordes nasales… Bec, Anche, tige mobile, tube et pavillon évasé, chalumeau, médium, clairon, suraigu du crâne… Clarine vient de clair, sonnettes pour les ruminants dans la brume…


Languette de roseau…

Je regarde le Pape… Il a l’air content… Il bat la mesure de la main droite… Le petit secrétaire m’interroge de loin… Je fais signe que j’ai téléphoné… Il baisse la tête… Liv et Sigrid sont fascinées par Cecilia et Marco… L’Anglaise me plaît bien, cheveux rejetés en arrière, énergique, un peu méchante, bien fluide au milieu des sons… Ah, ils l’envoient, ce Quintette… Bon Dieu, quels progrès ils ont fait… Marco est inspiré… Il ferme les yeux, respire, module, s’enfonce, creuse, dérape, remonte, se brise, s’éparpille, plane, se refaufile dans les bois, saute à travers les cordes… Cecilia le capte au quart de tour… Les autres s’enlèvent à la suite… Poumons, bouche, poignets, torses… Rien à dire, c’est parfait… Il joue à l’aveugle maintenant, Marco, il est dans le velours…

Et le revoilà dans l’écorché, le strident… Et puis l’herbe mélancolique… Et puis de nouveau la crise, l’ironie, le frisson sur soi… Elle est gravement désenchantée, la clarinette, mais elle chante… Rien à voir avec la flûte rigide en cui-cui, étalon pétrifié, lingot poussif, que d’ailleurs Mozart détestait, on le sait… Ici, au contraire, déhanchement de gorge, hoquet tracassé, tranché, cascade perlée, billes… Sarbacane des voix… Cosi… La Clémence… Les femmes pour elles-mêmes, chauffées dans la spirale endiablée…

Les voilà de retour, les cinq, ils reviennent de leur balade à Cythère… Cecilia et l’Anglaise en fanions, à la pointe de la barque; le violoncelle barbu à la barre avec, à ses côtés, le grand maigre second violon… Et la clarinette au milieu, à la place du mât, Marco à bout de souffle mais encore en souffle… Ils arrivent au port, ils accostent sur le Canal, là, dehors, qui le reçoit dans ses reflets protégés… Ils rentrent par la fenêtre, ils vont s’asseoir sur leurs chaises dorées… C’est fini… Ils se lèvent et saluent bien bas le Pape. Lequel va leur serrer la main en retenant un instant leurs mains. Révérence de Cecilia et de l’Anglaise. Vingt-trois minutes vingt secondes: un soupir de trop dans l’Adagio269.

In such a long descriptive fragment, it is possible to indicate several stylistic determinants which, due to repetitiveness and the effect of excessive cumulative linguistic schematisation, cause expressiveness. The frequency and unlimited use of the ellipsis (in total 59 times…) is striking and despite the fact that it resembles an ornament in a non-linear view of the text, an inlaid element with artistic features – in essence, it sets the dimensions and determines the semantics of the (extra-)sentential syntagmatic scheme. Exposing the simultaneity of the verbal notation in relation to the realisation of the musical text is about its extra-sentential functionalisation. It is evident that sentences ending with a full stop in the basic function of the character appear only after the concert performance is finished (“C’est fini… Ils se levent et saluent bien bas le Pape.”). But above all, as well as this added meaning, in the textual dimension ellipsis creates an enumerative series of subsequent sentence suspensions, which in the first moment make it impossible to explain the associational relations. In the role of the semantic pause, through which the type of musical pause is implied, it constructs general referentiality, extends the language structure beyond the range of words and sentences into the sphere of the unstated. The whole idea of verbalisation depends on finding lexically divergent semantic equivalents to adequately capture the situation of listening to Mozart. Paraphrase in the linguistic sense becomes the dominant text-creating mechanism and determines the expressive character of the description, its impulsiveness and chaotic nature. The fragment loses coherence as a result of the collision of numerous semantic ellipses and the meaning of the word sequences, and exists as semantically elliptical (the pattern of sentences can be defined by a mathematical formula: a+b+c etc. => … a+b+c etc. or otherwise: sequence x => … x, sequence y => … y). Syntagmatic relations undergo serious destabilisation, but paradigmatic relations ostentatiously come into view, particularly where instead of full sentences, there are juxtapositions of individual words (a, b, c etc. => … a, b, c etc.)270. In the previously quoted passage, which was created through the use of technical language, both planes preserved the natural proportions for universal language, this time the paradigmatic dimension supremely dominates, only allows “minimum syntax”271 and properly – if it were possible – would most willingly completely eliminate the syntagmatic conditioning.

Description of music: between the interdisciplinary and the poetic variants

In Sollers the whole effort to merge “descriptive pauses”272 in the field of narrative structure leads towards creating a musical mood by means of language, outlining an aura of living the moment and intensifying the feeling of timelessness, causing a dynamic effect of reality with the help of “the ‘useless details’”273 [“détail inutile”]. The next verbal impressions – creating structure, as Barthes would say, “purely summatory”274 – are an attempt to include the result of a psychic reaction as a response to randomly selected, nearly unknown musical impulses. Through them the description of perception simulates the description of a musical work and attempts to break into the space of its multidimensional meaning through a simultaneous game of “explaining” the way of listening. The linear verbal notation with its form presents, in a sense, the dialectical temporality of a musical piece, a real-time and an atemporal fusion275. Only in this context could we ask what is meant by the final difference of four seconds, the fact that the assumed performance time, “twenty-three minutes and sixteen seconds”, turns into “twenty-three minutes and twenty seconds”? From the perspective of musicians and listeners, within the represented world, this is ←86 | 87→undoubtedly about the case (“one sigh too many in the Adagio”) of the primacy of indefinable time over real time during the musical performance and the dominance of subjectivity over objectivity, or more broadly – a natural feature of human activity. It is also worth noticing another meaning of this in the metatextual plane, for Sollers apparently consciously shows the musical source of imprecision in the description of perception (in sharp opposition to the interdisciplinary variant). Since there are no identical musical interpretations, and not even two identical performances – the more there does not exist one type of reception, that is, the description of the perception must necessarily be fortuitous, extremely individualised.

Without such a comprehensive reference to the last fragment it would be difficult to prove that colloquial language in this type of description remains syntagmatically in the sphere of tautological transformation on account of the schematic creation of understatement (semantic functionalisation of ellipsis). At the point when it takes on quite obvious dimensions, the stylistic manner of notation is suspended for a moment not just to conceal itself, but also for its even greater exposure through the effect of retardation. A dictionary definition of “instrument of delirium” is then proposed, bearing – like Marco’s earlier commentaries – graphical quotation marks:

«En Grèce, l’instrument du délire est l’aulos dionysiaque, qui n’est pas une flûte, mais une clarinette, parfois un hautbois, c’est-à-dire un instrument à anche où la langue fait vibrer directement le souffle producteur.»276

Although in terms of general character the quote appears to be identical to Marco’s statements (moreover, such information could be spoken by him before the concert, while during it someone reminds themselves of it), its positional significance in the text grows incomparably because of the strong contrast and “overcoming” the technique of description of perception. The technical language had to obtain prior contextual support from the colloquial language, now the situation changes and the relations are reversed. As a consequence, two elementary ←87 | 88→descriptions of music function fragmentarily in Sollers277, they require mutual complementation in the stylistic plane and, above all, they jointly decide about the semantic internal-text tension of the whole description and its role in the narrative structure278.

In summary, it should be said that both types of descriptions of music are burdened with incompleteness in a literary work and exactly for this reason may be complementary through the act of their compilation. Musicological or interdisciplinary description (technical language), undertaken on account of the specific value of objectivisation, seems too crude in literature and rather too demanding for a literary audience in the understanding of the contours of a musical work. In opposition to this it is possible to define poetic description (language of perception279), which is not subject in any way to the scientific criteria, but which only seemingly tries to characterise the musical composition (seemingly, because it describes perspective) by undertaking a highly subjective interpretation of the listening process. The first descriptive strategy, syntagmatically neutral, is doomed to certain lexical predictability280 in naming elements of a musical subject (the significance of the informing function dominates), the second – not so much for lexical predictability as for lexical-syntagmatic281 operation, which results in the effect of incoherence that is otherwise typical of writing of an expressionistic character (primary expressive function). In other words, on the one hand, a number of procedural schemes and terminological conventions appear, and on the other, there is unlimited poetic interpretation on account of the absence of model literary recording of impressions.

Using Janusz Sławiński’s terminology it is theoretically possible to constatate, that when deprived of the dimension of temporality, the “logical-hierarchical model” (description of the musical work) collides with the “operational model” (description of perception), in which temporality is a fundamental characteristic282. The coexistence of these text-creating models within one description complicates its study ←88 | 89→and requires a complex, multi-aspect analysis. Two types of description of music in an integrated form in Sollers, distinguished by object and perspective, clearly show that it is necessary to go beyond Philippe Hamon’s theoretical position. All explications there refer only to the linguistic sphere, to paradigmatic-syntagmatic transformations, here – not undermining their value in the context of the general study of the textuality of the phenomenon – it is necessary to see two other, integral aspects of each description: ontological and anthropological. The scope of analysis determines the fundamental discrepancy between purely linguistic understanding of Hamon’s “descriptive system”283 and the ontological approach to description by Jean Molino, within which the character of the described being, situation and perspective are all respected284. The hermetic language strategy obscures the main obstacle preventing the creation of a typology of potential cases; lack of a model description of music on account of the indefinability of its space (poetic variant) or its inaccessibility (musicological variant) is revealed only by the eclectic strategy. Ultimately, it is necessary to be confined to a general distinction between two description variants, poetic and interdisciplinary, taking into account the indirect form of complex description – poetic-interdisciplinary. They determine two primary, polar possibilities of verbal approach to a musical piece in general; between them Bohdan Pociej still situates the case of philosophical description, stopping in consequence at: “three ways of characterising a musical work: purely musicological – analytical; philosophical; and – in a broad sense – literary285.

All nuances related to the description of music in literature (generally depicting either a musical work or perception; moreover, indirect possibilities) adhere to the thematisation of music in a literary work, belong to the same problem field. In addition to revealing the overriding characteristic, the lack of désintéressement from the side of literature (i.e. semanticising in any form of the presented musical work in a narrative system), also constitutes a certain difference – the description may feign the existence of a direct realisation of a musical piece and most strongly reveal the size of “the referential illusion286. As a result ←89 | 90→of this an extremely difficult theoretical question appears: how and in what dimension should the relationship between the description and thematisation be treated, bearing in mind the multiplicity of phenomena hidden under the concept of musicality of a literary work? As Michał Głowiński proposes, an initial and necessary “condition of musicality of literature”287 is the thematisation of music; I would say much more cautiously that in some situations there may be and then there is for general description an incontrovertible case of musicality II in the sense previously defined. Other than that the “condition” turns out to be too general, too roughly selective, and is immediately provided with a clausula: “However, not all thematisation,” warns Głowiński, “makes it possible to talk about musicality. It is certainly not allowed by the kind thanks to which music is merely the subject of description, and take place without structural relationships, within which some similarity is sketched between the literary statement and the musical work”288.

At the time of ordering the problems and the range of categories covering them, it seems firstly that description of the musical work, as unambiguously demonstrated by the example of Le Coeur absolu, constitutes a fully fledged form of thematisation and should be considered in one of the fields of musicality of a literary work. Secondly, the reservations expressed by the theoretician concern more complex situations and such literary texts, in which thematisation of music combined with musical construction filiations needs to be contained in a separate category. If I understand correctly the explanations in the optics adopted here, in Głowiński the symptoms of musicality II and musicality III gain a common study horizon. Meanwhile, seeing at once highly diverse literary realisations, we come to the conclusion that either such cases cannot be reconciled, or that it is possible in the best scenario through introducing further restrictions. As a direct consequence of this, some phenomena from the first area, particularly limited to the description of music, cannot be given rights reserved for those from the more complex second. Thus, the basic difficulty introduces the scope of the theoretical perspective but is possible to overcome at the price of corrective reservations. Arranging the issues without revealing the problem of interference of the views of different levels of the literary work influences the skepticism and negativity of the conclusions: if we look at the musicality of a literary work through the prism of the determinants of musicality III, then musicality I (operations in the sphere of prosody and sound instrumentation), and also musicality II in fact seem to ←90 | 91→categorise something that is not very musical or even non-musical. Just for this reason, I think, the extensive problematic of manifestations of the musicality of a literary work cannot be resolved either speculatively and a priori289, nor even more so from one perspective. The maintenance of three overarching spheres of the relationship between a literary work and music – schematically defined as: musicality I, II and III – perhaps remains a basic necessity in music-literary studies. The question of musical literary text (musicality III) in Sollers’ novel reveals itself in the plane of thematisation and, as to its general expression, there is certainly no disagreement with Michał Głowiński’s position. However, the main problem appears in another place, admittedly marginally, when viewing just the description of the music, but it is extremely important in the study of the issue of musicality of a literary work. Literary cases referred to as musical literary texts do not always reveal signal(s) in the plane of thematisation and frequently strongly blur the musical construction filiations290 (Celan’s Death Fugue is an example). Hence the earlier caution: thematisation of music may be a condition for the musicality of a literary work, but it may be – to refine the wording – one of the conditions.

224See E. Wiegandt, “Problem tzw. muzyczności prozy powieściowej XX wieku,” in: Pogranicza i korespondencje sztuk, “Z dziejów form artystycznych w literaturze polskiej”, vol. 56, ed. T. Cieślikowska, J. Sławiński, Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1980, p. 104. However, it is necessary to immediately point out that this term functions in Western research in a different, broader sense; it covers all phenomena connected with the issue of musicality of a literary work. See Introduction, p. 17 ff.

225See S. P. Scher, Verbal Music in German Literature, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968 (definition of the concept, p. 8). See also idem, “Notes Toward a Theory of Verbal Music,” in: Yearbook of Comparative and General Literature, 2 (1970): p. 149 ff.

226M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” in: Teksty, 2 (1980): p. 98.

227M. Podraza-Kwiatkowska, “O muzycznej i niemuzycznej koncepcji poezji,” in: Teksty, 2 (1980): p. 95.

228In this arrangement, articles concerning links between Tolstoy and Kreutzer Sonata with music: M. Sémon, “La musique de la ‘Sonate à Kreutzer’” (Cahiers Léon Tolstoï, 6: “La Sonate à Kreutzer”, Paris: Institut d’Études Slaves, 1992, pp. 7–19) and W. Troubetskoy, “Tolstoï, Schopenhauer et la musique dans la ‘Mort d’Ivan Ilitch’ et la ‘Sonate à Kreutzer’” (ibidem, pp. 21–28).

229Thus “descriptions of a musical work” are distinguished amongst all “descriptions of music”, which means they are created – in contrast to the remaining music descriptions – as a result of an intersemiotic operation. Study of two general variants of description (a musical work and perception) places the majority of literary realisations in the correct light. More broadly addressing the issue, intersemioticity makes it possible to eliminate characterised descriptions from the research field (or include it in its range); this, for example is how Philippe Hamon proceeds, avoiding “problems which are intersemiological”. Ph. Hamon, “What is a Description?,” in: French Literary Theory Today: A Reader, ed. T. Todorov, trans. R. Carter, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982, p. 147 (see Ph. Hamon, “Qu’est-ce qu’une description?,” in: Poétique, 12 (1972): p. 465).

230R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, trans. R. Howard, Berkeley–Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1989, p. 148; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 16 (see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” in: idem, Le bruissement de la langue, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1984, p. 174 [first edition: Communications, 11 (1968): pp. 84–89]).

231See amongst others: J.-M. Adam, “‘Enargeia’ et origines épidictiques de l’‘ekphrasis’,” in: idem, La description, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1993, pp. 26–31, 33–35; S. Bertho, “Les Anciens et les Modernes: la question de l’ekphrasis chez Goethe et chez Proust,” in: Revue de Littérature Comparée, 1 (1998): pp. 53–62; M. P. Markowski, “Ekphrasis: Uwagi bibliograficzne z dołączeniem krótkiego komentarza,” in: Pamiętnik Literacki, 2 (1999): pp. 229–236; L. Louvel, “La description ‘picturale’: Pour une poétique de l’iconotexte,” in: Poétique, 112 (1997): pp. 476, 478, 487. Compare also Ulrich Weisstein’s typology: U. Weisstein, “Comparing Literature and Art: Current Trends and Prospects in Critical Theory and Methodology,” in: Literature and the Other Arts: Proceedings of the 9th Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association/La littérature et les autres arts: Actes du IXe Congrès de l’Association Internationale de Littérature Comparée [Innsbruck, 20–25 August 1979], vol. 3, ed. Z. Konstantinović, S. P. Scher, U. Weisstein, Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck, 1981, p. 23 ff.

232See L. Louvel, op. cit., pp. 478–479.

233See J. Opalski, “‘Cudownie nieartykułowana mowa dźwięków…’,” in: Teksty, 3 (1972): pp. 117–126.

234It is enough here to recall just a few known examples: Bach’s Art of Fugue (The Counterfeiters) appears in André Gide, similarly in Umberto Saba in Preludio e Fughe; in Philippe Sollers – Mozart’s Clarinet Quintet in A major (Le Coeur absolu); in Milan Kundera – Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 111 (The Book of Laughter and Forgetting); in Stanisław Barańczak – Schubert’s Winterreise (Podróż zimowa [Winter Journey]).

235Nota bene the notion of “expressive description” is used in a slightly different dimension by Jean-Michel Adam and André Petitjean, Le texte descriptif, Paris: Éditions Nathan, 1989, pp. 16–24.

236The description of music still requires a separate study in the historical sense – despite several attempts at recapitulation, the theoretical perspective has changed little since Konrad Górski identified a complete lack of interest in the problem in Polish literary studies. K. Górski, “Muzyka w opisie literackim,” in: Życie i Myśl, 1–6 (1952): p. 91.

237The theoretical context is here, first and foremost, the valuable study by Philippe Hamon, Du descriptif, Paris: Hachette, 1994 (the book is known more widely under the original title of the 1981 publication – Introduction à l’analyse du descriptif). This is complemented by the position of Jean Molino, strongly polemically opposed to Hamon – particularly his “descriptive system”. J. Molino, “Logiques de la description,” in: Poétique, 91 (1992): pp. 363–382.

238J. Sławiński, “O opisie,” in: Studia o narracji, ed. J. Błoński, S. Jaworski, J. Sławiński, Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, 1982, p. 23.

239Compare J. Błoński, “Ut musica poësis?,” in: Twórczość, 9 (1980): p. 111.

240Hence Anna Barańczak’s characteristic expression: “‘indirectly musicological’ literary statements”. A. Barańczak, “Poetycka ‘muzykologia’,” in: Teksty, 3 (1972): p. 116.

241Compare Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 17.

242Another thing is that on account of “programme” explanations attached to literary texts: author’s commentaries (S. Barańczak, Podróż zimowa [Winter Journey]), annex (J. Iwaszkiewicz, Martwa Pasieka [Dead Apiary]; T. Mann, Doktor Faustus) or notes (J. Tardieu, Da capo: Poèmes, Paris: Gallimard, 1995), some researchers are tempted to talk about intersemiotic transposition.

243K. Górski, op. cit., p. 100.

244Compare S. P. Scher, “Notes Toward a Theory of Verbal Music,” pp. 152–153. Compare also J. Opalski, “O sposobach istnienia utworu muzycznego w dziele literackim,” in: Pogranicza i korespondencje sztuk, pp. 58–59.

245For example the Vinteuil Sonata implies César Franck’s Violin Sonata in A major as one of the sources of inspiration (M. Proust, Du côté de chez Swann, Paris: Grasset, 1913; see M. Proust, In Search of Lost Time, vol. 1: Swann’s Way, edited and annotated W. C. Carter, New Haven–London: Yale University Press, 2013). See M. Butor, “Les oeuvres d’art imaginaires chez Proust,” in: idem, Essais sur les Modernes, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1964, pp. 129–197 (also in: M. Butor, Répertoire II, Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1964, pp. 252–292; M. Butor, Oeuvres complètes de Michel Butor, ed. M. Calle-Gruber, vol. 2: Répertoire 1, Paris: Éd. de la Différence, 2006, pp. 576–608; see M. Butor, “The Imaginary Works of Art in Proust,” in: Inventory: Essays by Michel Butor, ed. R. Howard, London: Jonathan Cape, 1970, pp. 146–184). See also J. Opalski, “‘Cudownie nieartykułowana mowa dźwięków…’,” pp. 119–120. It is a separate matter (and here Michał Głowiński’s view has total legitimacy), that in this case the operation of determining the musical prototype from the point of view of the interpretation of the work is of little importance. M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” p. 105.

246If in Flaubert’s description from Un coeur simple objects not directly related to the story (old piano, barometer) reveal reality and in this way, as Barthes argues, “the reality effect is produced” and the phenomenon of “the referential illusion” (see R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, p. 148; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 16; see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” p. 174. Compare M. Charles, “Le sens du détail,” in: Poétique, 116 (1998): pp. 387–394), here the problem of a reverse relationship arises – the description of a fictitious composition is not able to free itself fully from the source reality.

247As a model example of avoiding the description of a musical work we can take the fragment of the novel by Stanisław Dygat, concerning the many-page description of events before, during and after the concert in the Krakow Philharmonic (Mieczysław Karłowicz’s Episode at a Masquerade, Piano Concerto in d minor by Brahms). S. Dygat, Disneyland, Warsaw: PIW, 1965, pp. 196–212.

248See F. Escal, Contrepoints: Musique et littérature, Paris: Méridiens Klincksieck, 1990, pp. 164–165.

249In this context, Sollers’ general interest in music (amongst others Bach, Mozart and above all Haydn) plays an important role, but also his special operations while working on Le Coeur absolu, as, for example, direct presence at Mahler’s concert connected to this. See autocommentary: C. Clément, Sollers: La Fronde, Paris: Éditions Julliard, 1995, pp. 180–181.

250Ph. Forest, Philippe Sollers, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1992, p. 282.

251See M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” p. 100.

252The operation of incorporating individual descriptions into a larger structure in Philippe Hamon constitutes one of the three fundamental problems of description (in addition to functioning in its own space and its role in the narrative structure). Hamon asks about three cases, “(a) how is a description incorporated in a larger textual ensemble […] (b) how does a description function internally? […] (c) what is the role of a description in the overall functioning of the text which contains it […]”. See Ph. Hamon, “What is a Description?,” p. 148 (see Ph. Hamon, “Qu’est-ce qu’une description?,” p. 466).

253Ph. Sollers, Le Coeur absolu, Paris: Gallimard, 1987, p. 194.

254See Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 41. See also J. Sławiński, op. cit., p. 22.

255In opposition to the direct relationship would be the type of indirect relationship and for example description of Kreutzer Sonata in Tolstoy, reconstructed from a perspective, post factum. See L. Tolstoy, The Kreutzer Sonata, in: idem, The Kreutzer Sonata” and Other Stories, trans. L. Maude, A. Maude, J. D. Duff, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998, pp. 144–145.

256This detail is exceptionally strongly exposed in the perspective of the text, appearing many times (amongst others also as a kind of descriptive frame) and requires extra-textual verification. Otherwise, the Quintet performed by for example James Campbell (clarinet), Bogusław Bruczkowski (I violin), Krzysztof Bruczkowski (II violin), Artur Paciorkiewicz (viola) and Wojciech Walasek (cello) lasts 33’25” (Pałac Prymasowski, 6–8 IV 1981; Polskie Nagrania – SX 2086, 1987), in turn performed by Béla Kovács (clarinet) together with the Kodály Quartet – 32’43” (Hungaroton SLPX 11828, 1977).

257Ph. Sollers, Le Coeur absolu, p. 197.

258And then, as in the case of Sollers, it is difficult to speak about the phenomenon of subordinate description in the narrative field, subordination, which Bożena Witosz captures with the term “degradation of description”, and which Barthes earlier defined with the question about “the significance of this insignificance”. R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, p. 143; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 12 (see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” p. 169; B. Witosz, “Degradacja opisu,” in: Język Artystyczny, vol. 10, ed. D. Ostaszewska, E. Sławkowa, Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, 1996, pp. 132–140. Compare B. Witosz, Opis w prozie narracyjnej na tle innych odmian deskrypcji: Zagadnienia struktury tekstu, Katowice: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego, 1997, p. 67.

259Compare A. Locatelli, “Musique et roman de formation (George Sand: “Consuelo”; Romain Rolland: “Jean-Christophe”; Thomas Bernhard: “Le Naufragé”; Elfriede Jelinek: ‘La Pianiste’),” in: Revue de Littérature Comparée, 2 (1994): pp. 169–182.

260Ph. Sollers, Le Coeur absolu, pp. 194–195.

261Compare J. Sławiński, op. cit., p. 25 ff.

262See W. A. Mozart, Quintett für Klarinette, zwei Violinen, Viola und Violoncello, Leipzig: Edition Peters, no year, p. 4.

263For the clarinet in A, as a transposing instrument which transposes a third downwards, the written range does not correspond to the sounding range, which is why the pitch e2 is written as g2. In other words, notation in the key of C-major for the clarinet in A sounds in reality in the key of A-major (which is why there are no key signatures in this instrument’s part).

264W. A. Mozart, op. cit., p. 26.

265See ibidem, p. 33; p. 34; pp. 38, 39.

266Compare Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 43.

267See J. Molino, op. cit., p. 380. See also M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” p. 106 ff.

268Compare J. Molino, op. cit., p. 376. The approach proposed here is only apparently in opposition to the position of Michał Głowiński, who selects two degrees of the language of perception: maintaining the contours of the musical work (Kreutzer Sonata) and developing beyond it (Dzieje grzechu [The Wages of Sin]). M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” pp. 108–109. I limit myself to a fundamental distinction, bypassing the existence of intermediate situations, and hence Sollers’ description being analysed – which sharply indicates the boundary between the “interdisciplinary” and the “poetic” variants – presents its value in the sense of exemplification. Here it is significant that in the description of perception the elements of a musical work usually function in a completely different way than in musicological description, because they do not really concern the composition, but are a kind of semantic argument for the perspective of the description and for the adopted stylistic tactics – they don’t inform, as much as they argue. Compare Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 63.

269Ph. Sollers, Le Coeur absolu, pp. 195–197.

270In this case – but with reservations about the variant of the interdisciplinary description – we must agree with Philippe Hamon’s generalisation that: “By definition a description is an interruption in the syntagmatics of the narration due to a paradigm (a catalogue, an enumeration, a lexicon) […]”. Ph. Hamon, “What is a Description?,” p. 150 (see Ph. Hamon, “Qu’est-ce qu’une description?,” p. 468). The distinctiveness of the phenomenon in the narrative perspective illustrates Janusz Sławiński’s distinction in a similar light: as far as the story concentrates “on the sentence”, the description is primarily aimed at “the dictionary”. J. Sławiński, op. cit., p. 27. Compare B. Witosz, “Szczegół w opisie: Zagrożenie koherencji tekstu czy jego niezbywalny atrybut?,” in: Pamiętnik Literacki, 1 (1995): p. 135.

271J. Sławiński, op. cit., p. 27.

272J. Ricardou, Problèmes du Nouveau Roman, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1967, p. 165. Compare G. Genette, “Frontières du récit,” in: idem, Figures II, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1969, p. 58. Compare also T. Todorov, Poétique, Paris: Éd. du Seuil, 1973, p. 54 (see T. Todorov, Introduction to Poetics, trans. R. Howard, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1981, p. 32).

273R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, pp. 142, 143; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 12 (see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” pp. 168, 169).

274R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, p. 143; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 12 (see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” p. 169).

275In this phenomenon Bohdan Pociej sees one of the “seven paradoxes of music”. See B. Pociej, “Sprzeczności i paradoksy albo dialektyka muzyki,” in: Znak, 2 (1994): p. 117.

276Ph. Sollers, Le Coeur absolu, p. 196. This fragment is highly allusive in connection with the musical and extra-musical significance of the clarinet in Mozart’s time, when the instrument was not widely known, deprived of its solo character and was a symbol of Freemasonry (nota bene this is directly related to the genesis of the Clarinet Quintet and its meaning in the novel by Sollers). Marco explains the circumstances surrounding the composition a bit earlier: “«Comme vous le savez, continue-t-il, le Quintette avec clarinette en la est de septembre 1789. Contemporain, donc, de Così fan tutte, opéra qu’il évoque d’ailleurs de toutes parts. C’est l’année du bonheur extrême de Mozart, ce que les spécialistes appellent ‘l’année radieuse’. Nous pensons, quelques amis et moi, qu’il s’agit la, pour ainsi dire, du coeur absolu de son oeuvre»”. Ibidem, p. 195.

277The relationship between both description strategies (colloquial language – technical language), based on fragments of the description by Sollers, I see more broadly than Janusz Sławiński in the literary-theoretical field: not only on account of their degree of “legibility”, but especially for the fundamentally different orientation. Compare J. Sławiński, op. cit., p. 30.

278Compare Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, pp. 170–171.

279See M. Głowiński, “Muzyka w powieści,” p. 107 ff.

280Ph. Hamon, “What is a Description?,” p. 158 (see Ph. Hamon, “Qu’est-ce qu’une description?,” p. 474).

281Compare Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 109.

282J. Sławiński, op. cit., pp. 28–29.

283See Ph. Hamon, Du descriptif, p. 128.

284See schema sketch by Jean Molino, op. cit., p. 371.

285B. Pociej, “Literacka ekspresja językowa a wiedza o muzyce,” in: O twórczości Jarosława Iwaszkiewicza, ed. A. Brodzka, Kraków–Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1983, p. 206.

286R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: idem, The Rustle of Language, p. 148; also: R. Barthes, “The Reality Effect,” in: French Literary Theory Today, p. 16 (see R. Barthes, “L’effet de réel,” p. 174). Michael Riffaterre takes and develops the trope sketched out by Barthes, introducing the concept of the “descriptive system”. M. Riffaterre, Semiotics of Poetry, Bloomington–London: Indiana University Press, 1978.

287M. Głowiński, “Literackość muzyki – muzyczność literatury,” p. 79.

288Ibidem, p. 80.

289Compare G. Genette, Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree, trans. C. Newman, C. Doubinsky, Lincoln–London: University of Nebraska Press, 1997, p. 384 ff (see G. Genette, Palimpsestes: La littérature au second degré, Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1982, p. 443 ff).

290It is possible to indicate the differences between these views in the works of Michel Butor: in Les Bagatelles de Thélème thematisation leads directly to the problematics of construction connections, in Description de San Marco – the function of thematisation, in the sense proposed by Głowiński, does not reveal any structural relationship at all with Igor Stravinsky’s Canticum Sacrum (the dedication turns out to be a signal to reveal intersemiotic relations). See J. Waelti-Walters, “The Architectural and Musical Influences of Michel Butor’s ‘Description de San Marco’,” in: Revue de Littérature Comparée, 1 (1979): pp. 65–75.