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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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4 Literary fugues (Umberto Saba’s[[I93]] Preludio e Fughe and Paul Celan’s[[I93]] Todesfuge)


The arrangements regarding potential “fugues” in literature should paradoxically be started – not optimistically but skeptically: adequate translation of a musical work to a literary work does not exist, which in a wider perspective means, through simple analogy, the impossibility of mutually transposing art forms. Gérard Genette laconicly captured the fundamental difference between music and literature in the formula: “The one sings; the other speaks”291. The initial and most general reflection must seem very awkward here, because it either eliminates the problem and purposefulness of any further reaching research at the outset, or on the contrary, suggests its central disputable place, and thus a dialectical (aporic?) and “negative”292 starting point for further considerations. In this light, all theoretical solutions – formulated either in synthesising essays, or ad hoc – can be generally arranged within two strategies: hermetic or eclectic. The first variant, to refer to the closest and relatively representative examples, gained a clearly privileged place amongst others, in Tadeusz Szulc’s proposals, presented in the book Muzyka w dziele literackim [Music in a Literary Work] (Warsaw 1937), which are often recalled today in Polish studies. Szulc almost removed the problem from Polish post-war historical- and, as a consequence, theoretical-literary293 studies, excluding the sense of the analogy between literature and music (otherwise indeed having many reasons for this294). Within the second variant, however, the issue was considered differently by Tadeusz Makowiecki, who, in the “Introduction” (under the title “Poezja a muzyka” [“Poetry and Music”]) to Muzyka w twórczości Wyspia...

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