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Musicality of a Literary Work

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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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The book is a study falling within the range of literary theory, concerning – in the most general terms – various musical-literary relations in literature. This theoretical-literary attempt to sort the borderline questions (numerous artistic and analytical-interpretative strategies) is one of the possible relations between two different domains of art and is quite complicated to formulate. Simultaneously, it turns out to be of secondary importance, having started inspiring literary scholars (especially the present Western European comparative literature scholars) only recently, taking into account the long tradition of musicological or aesthetic-philosophical research works.

The category of “musicality” appears in the focus of interest, quite controversial in contemporary literary research and here considered both in its problematic and terminological senses (features of a literary text and the notion of an interdisciplinary importance, respectively). This risky term of “musicality” raises quite a few justified objections, just to mention crushing criticism by Tadeusz Szulc or Henri Meschonnic. On the other hand, however, it has often been applied by all generations of literature specialists. What is most characteristic is its being defined differently each time, in an individual way (hence the phenomenon of “paradigms of ‘musicality’” in the contemporary humanities).

In Musicality of a Literary Work a theoretical-literary perspective of perception is assumed, in essence searching for an answer – through a prism of “musicality” in its broad sense – to three elementary questions: “What type of filiations characterise a given literary text?”, “How is it possible to analyse such different cases of intersemiotic relations...

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