1st Edition

Essays on Music and Language in Modernist Literature Musical Modernism

By Katherine O'Callaghan Copyright 2018
    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    316 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume explores the role of music as a source of inspiration and provocation for modernist writers. In its consideration of modernist literature within a broad political, postcolonial, and internationalist context, this book is an important intervention in the growing field of Words and Music studies. It expands the existing critical debate to include lesser-known writers alongside Joyce, Woolf, and Beckett, a wide-ranging definition of modernism, and the influence of contemporary music on modernist writers. From the rhythm of Tagore’s poetry to the influence of jazz improvisation, the tonality of traditional Irish music to the operas of Wagner, these essays reframe our sense of how music inspired Literary Modernism. Exploring the points at which the art forms of music and literature collide, repel, and combine, contributors draw on their deep musical knowledge to produce close readings of prose, poetry, and drama, confronting the concept of what makes writing "musical." In doing so, they uncover commonalities: modernist writers pursue simultaneity and polyphony, evolve the leitmotif for literary purposes, and adapt the formal innovations of twentieth-century music. The essays explore whether it is possible for literature to achieve that unity of form and subject which music enjoys, and whether literary texts can resist paraphrase, can be simply themselves. This book demonstrates how attention to the role of music in text in turn illuminates the manner in which we read literature.

    Table of Contents


    1. Woolf Rewriting Wagner: The Waves and Der Ring Des Nibelungen

    Emma Sutton, University of St Andrews, UK

    2. "That’s the Music of the Future": Joyce, Modernism and the "Old Irish Tonality"

    Katherine O’Callaghan, Mount Holyoke College, USA

    3. The Ring, The Waves and the Wake: Eternal Recurrence in Wagner, Woolf and Joyce

    Jamie McGregor, Rhodes University, South Africa

    4. Musicality in Ford Madox Ford’s Parade's End: Towards Modernity

    Isabelle Brasme, University of Nîmes (Unîmes) and EMMA (Université Paul Valéry Monptellier 3) France

    5. The (R)evolution of Olive Moore: Fugue as Bridge to a New Feminist Awakening.

    Renée Dickinson, Bellevue College, USA

    6. A Strict Arrangement: Thomas Mann, Doctor Faustus, and the Kretzschmar Lectures

    Maria Kager, Utrecht University, Netherlands

    7. Sounding Bodies: Eroticized Music-Making in Proust’s À la Recherche

    Axel Englund, Stockholm University, Sweden

    8. Rabindranath Tagore and Musical Modernity in Early Twentieth-Century Bengal Suddhaseel Sen, Presidency College, Kolkata, India

    9. Words for Music Perhaps: W. B. Yeats, Music and Meaninglessness.

    Adrian Paterson, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland

    10. "The way to learn the music of verse is to listen to it": Ezra Pound’s The Pisan Cantos and the "Sequence of the Musical Phrase"

    Katherine Firth, La Trobe University, Australia

    11. Imagism’s Musical Sympathies: Amy Lowell and Claude Debussy

    Debora Van Durme, Ghent University, Belgium

    12. Expansive Musical Modernism in William Carlos Williams, Steve Reich and Tom Leonard

    Peter Clandfield, Independent Scholar, Ontario, Canada

    13. The Sudden Thing of Being No One: Robert Creeley’s Rhythm Changes

    Steven Toussaint, University of Wellington, New Zealand


    14. "With all that Tutti and Continuo": Musicality and Temporality in Djuna Barnes’ The Antiphon

    Caroline Knighton, Birkbeck, University of London.

    15. "The Blues Always Been Here": African American Music and Black Modernism in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

    Michael Borshuk, Texas Tech Univ. USA.

    16. The Musicalization of Samuel Beckett

    Thomas Mansell, London Consortium


    Katherine O'Callaghan is Visiting Lecturer in the Department of English at Mount Holyoke College, USA.