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Music in Literature

Perspectives of Interdisciplinary Comparative Literature- Translated by Lindsay Davidson


Andrzej Hejmej

This book captures links between music and literature in the light of recent proposals from theorists of intertextuality and comparative literature, and at the same time diagnoses the current state of comparative literature as a field of literary research. The issue of literary score, namely the phenomenon of musical intertexts which exist in literature, lies at the centre of the author’s interests. He examines strict intertextual correlations, in situations where a particular musical composition is implied in the literary record, or where it is precisely indicated, or co-exists with it as a component of the intermedial structure. Particular attention is given to realisations of sound poetry by Bernard Heidsieck, Miron Białoszewski, the creator of the Teatr Osobny (Separate Theatre), poetic works by Kornel Ujejski and Stanisław Barańczak, the creative work of playwright-composer Bogusław Schaeffer and Michel Butor’s hybrid text.
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Stereotype(s) of Music in Literature


In connection with the theoretically treated issue of “music in literature” and the scale of historical complexity in the background, key questions immediately appear. These become the main object of our interest: tradition or theory, theory or literary text, literary text or the author’s conviction, biography or interpretation... It is obvious that today it is impossible to point to a common interpretative key to simultaneously understand such concepts as: mousike (Greek μουσική for ancient Greeks meant music, speech, poetry, and dance), correspondance des arts (a romantic and post-romantic postulate of synthesis of the arts), and Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk; further examples are: the concept of oral poetry, the medieval minnesingers and troubadours, and the contemporary instigators and authors of sound poetry (including: K. Schwitters, B. Heidsieck, H. Chopin, D. Higgins). Furthermore, there is no common interpretative key for the practice of attaching musical notation to poetic texts that have been conditioned by mnemotechnical factors, as would be found with Ronsard in Les Amours or the factor of broadly understood avant-gardism in literature of the twentieth century (I am thinking here of the appearance of musical quotations and sophisticated intertextual strategies); for the well-known parallels: fine arts – arts developing in time (visual arts – temporal art), in concepts such as Lessing’s100 (1766) and Jan Kazimierz Ordyniec’s101 (1828), and the parallels between two types of art, which have guided the orientation of comparatistic and music-literature studies in the last two decades (including research by: S. P. Scher, F. Claudon, J.-L. Cupers, F. Escal, P....

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