Musicality and American Fiction at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication
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I began to think about literary constructions of musicality during my very first semester of graduate school, in Richard Brodhead’s seminar on nineteenth-century American literature and culture. As a serious violinist who had recently left the concert hall for the halls of academe, ...
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The unnamed narrator of James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, recalling his first encounter with ragtime in a Manhattan club, points to a certain incommensurability between words and music: “I stopped talking to listen. It was music of a kind I had never heard before.”1 ...
1. Not Just Looking: Sister Carrie’s Musical Economy
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In the voluminous critical discussion of Dreiser’s first novel, which has long remained central to the canon of American realism and naturalism, a good deal of energy has gone into recognizing and analyzing its representations of the visual culture of commodity capitalism. ...
2. Listening to Women Playing Chopin
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With mock insistence that “the piano is passing and with it the piano girl— there really was a piano girl,” James Huneker, one of New York’s foremost music critics at the turn of the twentieth century, registers American women’s musical migration from the parlor to the concert hall: ...
3. Opera’s “Impossible Country”: Figuring the American Diva
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Clara Louise Kellogg, one of the nation’s first home-grown opera stars, begins her Memoirs of an American Prima Donna (1913) with a new kind of origin story for nineteenth-century white American operatic identity. Recalling how often she “slept and waked” as her slave nurse sang “Jim along Josy” while rocking her, ...
4. James Weldon Johnson’s Ex-Colored Musician
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If Song of the Lark revises Antonin Dvořák’s idea of a national art music built upon “Indian chants” by locating American musicality in a female performer’s body rather than the male composer’s Indian-inspired musical texts, Willa Cather’s American diva succeeds at the expense of both the modern bodies and the actual musical production of her “native” sources. ...
5. Fictions of the American Music Critic
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In its focus on music’s place in American literature at the turn of the twentieth century, this book has been concerned, among other things, with the relationship between music and writing. To write about music, for the fiction addressed here, is to consider the nature and effects of music as well as to confront the gap between musical and textual expression. ...
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Across their many differences, the novels considered in this study share a fundamental ambivalence about the presence and power of new forms of American musical experience. For many of their principal characters, music occasions the liberation or “awakening” of authentic pockets of self-hood and enables listeners ...
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Page Count: 182
Illustrations: 0 illustrations
Publication Year: 2013