Georges Perec’s experimental German radio-play from 1968 is one of the most radical attempts to construct a literary text that is in close affinity to rhetorical and musical compositional techniques. Based upon Goethe’s poem “Wandrers Nachtlied II,” the text is both a linguistic and semantic analysis and a playful re-creation of the poem. Transmitted by radio, but staged as a preprogrammed computational simulation that replaces the alphabetic code with the algorithmic one of the computer, the play reconstructs the historical transition from symbolic through analog to digital media. Focusing on the materiality of language, Perec’s poetic de-composition and re-composition of Goethe’s original lead to numerous new variations that follow strict, predetermined rules. Even though Perec neither creates a musical work nor transposes a musical composition into literature, he nevertheless succeeds in producing a polyphonic, acoustic artwork that transcends the intermedial boundaries between the two distinct semiotic systems of music and language.


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pp. 426-451
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