Music into Fiction

Music into Fiction

Composers Writing, Compositions Imitated

Theodore Ziolkowski

eBook for Handhelds

Camden House



Illuminates unexplored dimensions of the music-literature relationship and the sometimes unrecognized talents of certain famous writers and composers.

This book deals with three aspects that have been neglected in the burgeoning field of music and literature. The "First Movement" of the book considers writers from German Romanticism to the present who, like Robert Schumann, first saw themselves as writers before they turned to composition, or, like E. T. A. Hoffmann and Anthony Burgess, sought careers in music before becoming writers. It also considers the few operatic composers, such as Richard Wagner and Arnold Schoenberg, who wrote their own libretti. The "Second Movement" turns to literary works based specifically on musical compositions. This group includes, first and more generally, prose works whose author chose a specific musical form such as sonata or fugue as an organizational model. And second, it includes novels based structurally or thematically on specific compositions, such as Bach's Goldberg Variations. The "Finale" concludes with a unique case: efforts by modern composers to render musically the compositions described in detail by Thomas Mann in his novel Doktor Faustus. This book, which addresses itself to readers interested generally in music and literature and is written in a reader-friendly style, draws attention to unexplored dimensions of the music-literature relationship and to the sometimes unrecognized talents of certain writers and composers.

Theodore Ziolkowski is Professor Emeritus of German and Comparative Literature, Princeton University.


1 black and white illustrations
260 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Hardback, 9781571139733, February 2017
eBook for Handhelds, 9781782049289, February 2017
eBook, 9781782049173, February 2017
Camden House
BISAC LIT004130, MUS006000
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Table of Contents

Prelude: Introduction
Weber and Hoffmann
Berlioz and Schumann
Transition: Nietzsche and the Post-Wagnerians
Compositional Forms
Specific Compositions
Leverkühn's Compositions
Coda: Conclusion


Ziolkowski's study represents a monumental effort to bring together music and fiction in new terms. . . . [He] must be commended for bringing attention to such a significant number of previously unexamined literary works and laying the foundation for further research exploring how a knowledge of music and musical form can inform readings of literature. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

Ziolkowski . . . tackles the richness of his material with a reassuring confidence. He produces charming detail on the travails of the double talents in the field (only with his erudition at one's disposal does one begin to realize how many such talents there were and are). Most importantly, his constant reference to the [stature of] his subjects [in] the literary or musical professions reminds readers that these talents were not just delightful supper-party accomplishments, but meal tickets and passports to history. No one will read these chapters without profit, and without resolving to encounter some of those works for themselves . . . . MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

Any reader will find much to learn about the interface between opera and libretto, about musical references in literature, and especially about attempts to convey musical forms in fiction. . . . [Ziolkowski's book is] open-minded, capacious, and dauntingly informed. THE KEY REPORTER

With an admirably light hand, the author selects and organizes his materials from this vast topic in one book, which is written in a pleasant style. . . . It is in presenting a rich palette of possible further explorations that the true value of the present study resides. GERMAN QUARTERLY (Francién Marx)

Imitating a musical composition, Ziolkowski organizes this book into three main sections- "First Movement," "Second Movement," and "Finale"-bracketed by a prelude (introduction) and a coda (conclusion). This is an interesting and readily accessible study. Highly recommended. CHOICE

[E]ngaging . . . . [W]ide-ranging and often insightful . . . . Ziolkowski makes a nuanced and often convincing case for the many ways in which counterpoint and polyphony, or forms such as the fugue, chaconne, passcaglia, rondo, suite, sonata, and symphony are at least partially and indirectly transposable into verbal artifacts . . . . MONATSHEFTE

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