Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Samuel Beckett, Repetition and Modern Music

1st Edition

By John McGrath


178 pages | 35 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472475374
pub: 2017-11-14
eBook (VitalSource) : 9781315607566
pub: 2017-11-13
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Music abounds in twentieth- century Irish literature. Whether it be the "thought-tormented" music of Joyce’s "The Dead", the folk tunes and opera that resound throughout Ulysses, or the four- part threnody in Beckett’s Watt, it is clear that the influence of music on the written word in Ireland is deeply significant. Samuel Beckett arguably went further than any other writer in the incorporation of musical ideas into his work. Musical quotations inhabit his texts, and structural devices such as the da capo are metaphorically employed. Perhaps most striking is the erosion of explicit meaning in Beckett’s later prose brought about through an extensive use of repetition, influenced by his reading of Schopenhauer’s philosophy of music. Exploring this notion of "semantic fluidity", John McGrath discusses the ways in which Beckett utilised extreme repetition to create texts that operate and are received more like music. Beckett’s writing has attracted the attention of numerous contemporary composers and an investigation into how this Beckettian "musicalized fiction" has been retranslated into contemporary music forms the second half of the book. Close analyses of the Beckett- inspired music of experimental composer Morton Feldman and the structured improvisations of avantjazz guitarist Scott Fields illustrate the cross- genre appeal of Beckett to musicians, but also demonstrate how repetition operates in diverse ways. Through the examination of the pivotal role of repetition in both music and literature of the twentieth century and beyond, John McGrath’s book is a significant contribution to the field of Word and Music Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Music and Literature 2. Repetition in Music and Literature 3. Musico-literary Interaction in Modern Ireland and the Musical Aesthetic of Samuel Beckett 4. Beckett’s Semantic Fluidity: Repetition in the Later Work 5. Beckett and Feldman: Time, Repetition and the Liminal Space 6. Improvising Beckett: Chance, Silence and Repetition

About the Author

John McGrath is a guitarist and academic from Ireland. He works in many styles of music including improvisation, noise, blues, avantfolk, scratch, rockabilly and avantrock and has collaborated on various performance, TV and art projects. His solo fingerstyle compositions have been featured in The Wire magazine and on numerous international radio stations. John is a lecturer at ICMP, having previously taught at University of Liverpool and LIPA.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MUSIC / General