The Acoustic Self in English Modernism and Beyond : Writing Musically book cover
1st Edition

The Acoustic Self in English Modernism and Beyond
Writing Musically

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after January 31, 2022
ISBN 9781032025841
January 31, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
168 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Drawing on the analogy between musical meaning-making and human subjectivity, this book develops the concept of the acoustic self, exploring the ways in which musical characterization and structure are related to issues of subject-representation in the modernist English novel. 

The volume is framed around three musical topics—the fugue, absolute music, and Gesamtkunstwerk—arguing that these three modes of musicalization address modernist dilemmas around selfhood and identity. Varga reflects on the manifestations of the acoustic self  in examples from the works of E.M. Forster, Aldous Huxley, and Virginia Woolf and such musicians as Bach, Beethoven, Handel, and Wagner. An additional chapter on jazz and electronic music supplements these inquiries, pursuing the acoustic self beyond modernism and thereby inciting further discussion and theorization of musical intermediality, as well as recent sonic practices. 

Probing the analogies in the complex interrelationship between music, representation, and language in fictional texts and the nature of human subjectivity, this book will appeal to scholars interested in the interface of language and music, in such areas as intermediality, multimodality, literary studies, critical theory, and modernist studies. 

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations

Introduction: We Hear Only Ourselves

Chapter One: Let’s Get Lost

The Musical Text

Musical Intertextuality

Music and the Subject

The Sonic Self

The Acoustic Self

Writing the Acoustic Self in English Modernism

Chapter Two: Of Fugue and Other Demons

The Listening Subject

The Way of All Flesh

Point Counter Point

The Waves

In Light of "Sirens"

Chapter Three: Does Beethoven Kill? – Absolute Music and the Self

Aesthetic Reconsiderations of the Arts

Wagner’s "Beethoven"

A Room with a View


Forster’s Pictorial Turn?

Music as Truth

Howards End

Chapter Four: Wagner, Je T’aime … Moi Non Plus

Wagner: Let’s talk about sex

Not Defining Gender

Gender and Music

Wagner’s Gesamtkunstwerk: From Feuerbach to Parsifal

The Longest Journey



Chapter Five: The Dispersion of the Acoustic Self

The Bear Comes Home

Sample, Loop, and the Mix

Trip City


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Zoltan Varga is Associate Professor of English Literature and Culture at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway.