This essay attempts a minimal phenomenology of modern life by anchoring itself in the experiment that Bécquer undertook in 1862 when, in an early exercise in intermediality, he mixed his knowledge of music with his narrative mastery in Spanish and published "El Miserere." Retaining the traditionalist view of Bécquer as a writer who depicts picturesque landscapes can help us to criticize his ultramontane ideology, but this causes collateral damage, because it obliterates the value that soundscapes also have in the Becquerian imagination. Making use of the term das Musikalische introduced in Bécquer's time to capture a jointly aesthetic and moral meaning, Bécquer's musicality in "El Miserere" consists less of a state of harmony than of a specific rhythm or dialectic movement between consonance and assonance, agreement and discord, tension and resolution. I find this latter dialectic extremely paradigmatic of contemporary life because, while it enables the reader to experience the merciless howls of modernity, it nonetheless also makes him/her identify with its most strident dissonances.


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pp. 333-354
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