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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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Michel Butor’s Text-score (Dialogue avec 33 variations de Ludwig van Beethoven sur une valse de Diabelli)


M. Butor: “The idea of the text as a score leads to a new concept of literature”674.

I. “Generalised Intertextuality”

Michel Butor, starting with his adventures connected to the nouveau roman in the 1950s, over time has become an increasingly hermetic writer: placing ever more emphasis on intertextual entanglement of his writings (and also increasingly placing literary critics into a state of confusion). The consequences of his author choices are regarded variously today. Jean Starobinski – as a critic of Butor’s atypical realisations – is fully convinced that their unique features determine a particular reading practice, after all, most of the Frenchman’s books turn out to be the result of a reading transformation675. Lucien Dällenbach, reflecting on the writing and the individuality of the creator, at first resorted to rhetorical questions, and asked whether this is not about “the most Bakhtinian of today’s writers”676. Daniel Moutote speaks of a new type of writing that is radically different from the concept previously encountered (for example in Valéry, Gide or Proust), and does not hesitate to even talk about the phenomenon of Butor as a “Copernican revolution”677 in contemporary French literature. However, despite the obvious ← 197 | 198 → discrepancies, all the formulated judgements in connection with Butor have, as can be easily seen, a common foundation – they focus specifically on the author’s process of reading (more precisely, reading-writing, author’s interpretation), accenting above all considerations of intertextual writing.

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