Fabula-LhT: Reflexivity of music and literature

Call papers for the next issue of the magazine Fabula-LhT: literature, history, theory

Under the direction of Alain Corbellari and Augustin Voegele

Music has repeatedly been useful for writers to reflect on their experiences since the 18th centurye century under the label “literature”. Now this use of music as a mirror through which literature contemplates itself, or rather through which it contemplates its images, has taken so many forms that it now seems necessary to attempt clarification.

There are multiple breaking points. For example, the assumption of identity between literature and music has given rise to two complementary myths, one etiological and the other eschatological. On the one hand, Jean-Jacques Rousseau in particular dreamed of a “language of a melodic nature” that would bring together the virtues of music and “meaningful speech” (Martin, 2011, § 7), and his distant successor, Claude Lévi-Strauss, envisioned The Naked Man (1971) the initial encounter of literature and music in myth; on the other hand, the German Romantics and their successors—including Mallarmé in Sonnet en X (1899)—dreamed of the ultimate fusion of literature and music.

Moreover, often the comparison of literature and music is aimed at rapprochement, even attestation of identity (thereforeut musical poetry), sometimes, on the contrary, it is a matter of distinguishing between the two arts: among other things, you will think of reflections on the respective time experiences of music and the novel. Magic Mountain [Der Zauberberg] (1924) Thomas Mann.

In addition, some writers (or essayists with no literary activity other than theoretical activity) try to define literature by comparing it to music in texts of an essayistic dimension that are clearly placed in the margins of works (their own or others), such as commentaries with defining content. ambition, while others integrate this comparative dimension into their work. Between the latter and the latter we can make another distinction: between those who claim to be musical hypotexts—for example, Anthony Burgess composes his own. Napoleonic symphony [Napoleon Symphony: A Novel in Four Movements] (1974) on the modelHeroism One can think of Beethoven’s fugue – even of the architects from music. The opposite point [Point Counter Point] (1928) Aldous Huxley -; and those like Thomas Mann Doctor Faustus [Doktor Faustus] (1947), prefers to invite literature to reflect on what it is, confronting the figures of musicians (see Vincent-Arnaud and Sounac, 2016) and women and writers.

The above observations invite us to identify the following areas:

  • A gender issue?
    Are certain genres more comfortable than others as objects of reflexive reasoning based on comparisons with music? Poetry and Roman Jacobson’s remarks on the history of imaginary hierarchies among the arts immediately come to mind: “It is the visual arts that represent the expression for classicism. […] the purest […] art; it is music for romanticism and literature for realism. A romantic poem is to be a song” (Jakobson, [1934] 1977, p. 53). For Lévi-Strauss, the novel will be born from the splitting of the myth into two branches – music on the one hand, and narrative on the other, so it would be necessary to look for the trace of this fundamental divorce here. Lévi-Strauss, 1971, p. 583). Not forgetting the big question of literary orality (see the axes below).
  • What kind of music are we talking about?
    If we compare literature conceived as the art of vocal speech or literature conceived as silent writing with music, it is far from coming to the same thing. Therefore, in order to satisfy the reflexive desire for literature, it is necessary to describe the history of the defining reflection of music in literary works based on music (and not only in literature). We will think about André Gide and him Notes on Chopin (1938), where “he turns music into an object of silent reading, which literature would rather call” (Dziub, 2020, p. 111), in his view, to determine what the guiding value of a trans-historical literary work is, the aesthetic, i.e. discretion ; or, again, Jakobson, who describes the transformation of music into “euphony” in his reflections on “poetic language” (Jakobson, [1921] 1977, p. 26).
  • For the history of the literature = musicality equation.
    The previous axis also raises the issue of historical order. Research on the idea that literature tends to be more literary because it tends to be more musical has focused a lot on the romantic aspect. This makes sense, since the definition of literature as an autotelic system in the period of the German Romantics was accompanied in places by the affirmation of the identity between the literary character of the text and its musicality: the new theory of music established by Wilhelm. Heinrich Wackenroder, Ludwig Tieck, ETA Hoffmann or even Novalis are “related to the idea of ​​a new language, an autonomous or musical language” specific to Literature (Otabe, 2005, p. 24). But it is a moment of crystallization rather than a moment of foundation: we would therefore like to integrate it into a larger history that takes into account the corpus of ancient, medieval and “Ancient Regime” art. the art of dictation and the second art of rhetoric, relative to the ‘modern’ corpus of ‘literary art’.
  • Music, literary reflexivity and autoreflexivity of works.
    Some discourses with certain ambitions based on the musical comparatist are open and only paratextual, while others are strictly textual: thus a crucial distinction is made between literary reflexivity – thinkers engaged with literature, practically or theoretically, trying to define what it is. – and self-reflection of works – when a literary work tries to present itself or understand what literature is through the sounding of musical pieces or figures of musicians (thus Jean-Christophe (1904-1912) represents the ideal artist whom Romain Rolland, his hero, wished to have the courage to become as a novelist). Simply put, the situation is not always so simple, for example, some theoretical developments within romantic texts can form paratextual islands. We would therefore like to ask whether the distinction between reflexivity and self-reflexivity constitutes (or does not) an appropriate dividing line between the various uses of the musical comparatist by those attempting to define literature.

Rather than overly targeted case studies, we expect propositions that relate to fairly broad corpora with a potentially, but not necessarily, comparative (or even comparative) and transhistorical dimension.

To contribute to the problem:

Offers – two written pages, followed by a brief description of the projected article and a selected bibliography – must be sent Until May 2, 2023 at romain.bionda@fabula.org.

In doing so, please:

  • show the title of the number Fabula-LhT regarding the subject of the message;
  • submit your proposal in an editable format (eg .doc or .docx, but not .pdf);
  • To guarantee your anonymity, do not put the number’s principals in the message copy.

Proposals will be evaluated truly anonymously, double-blind (peer review), according to the journal’s practices. The authors will be notified of the results on 1er June 2023. The first versions of the articles will be presented in 1er No later than November 2023. Before presenting the articles in the final version, it is noted May 2, 2024, with the directors of this edition (Alain Corbellari and Augustin Voegele), several shuttles are expected. At the end of this process, texts that meet our editorial guidelines and meet the journal’s quality criteria will be published in autumn 2024.


Works cited in this call

DZIUB Nikol, “Music reduced to silence: Chopin in two Ukrainian writers (Lessia Oukraïnka, Maksim Rylski)”, Peter Schnyder and Augustin Voegele (dir.), Writing with Chopin. Frederic Chopin in literature, Paris, Champion of Honor, 2020, p. 111-122.

JAKOBSON Roman, “Fragments of New Russian Poetry”. First Sketch: Velimir Khlebnikov” (1921), trans. Tzvetan Todorov, Eight poetic questions, Paris, Seuil, 1977, p. 11-29.

JACOBSON Roman, “Marginal Notes on the Prose of the Poet Pasternak” (1934), trans. Michele Lacoste and André Combes, Eight poetic questions, Paris, Seuil, 1977, p. 51-75.

LEVI-STRAUSS Claude, mythological, t. 4: The Naked ManParis, Plon, 1971.

MARTIN Marie-Pauline, “An Essay on the Origin of Languages: Placing the Art of Music”, Judging art as a musician. An aspect of the artistic thought of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Paris, House of Human Sciences, 2011, p. 21-40. Available online: http://books.openedition.org/editionsmsh/8571.

OTABLE Tanehissa, “The self-reflective play of language and the spirit of the world: elements of musical theory in Novalis”, Philosophical horizons, flight. 16, nooh 1, Cause music, the director. Ghyslaine Guertin and Roch Duval, 2005, p. 24–37. Available online: https://id.erudit.org/iderudit/801303ar. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7202/801303ar.

VINCENT-ARNAUD Nathalie and SOUNAC Frédéric, “Figures of the musician: body, gestures, instruments in the text (Foreword)”, in N. Vincent-Arnaud and Fr. Sounac (dir.), Bodies, gestures, tools in the textFabula / The Colloquia, online, 2016. URL: http://www.fabula.org/colloques/document3866.php.

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