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Music in words : the music of Anthony Burgess, and the role of music in his literature

By Michael L. Holloway


Theý principal focus of the thesis is Anthony Burgess, a prolific novelist whose first and\ud enduring creative passion was music in general and composition in particular. Burgess\ud criticism is limited and largely out-of-date, showing little recognition of the aural or musical\ud elements in his fiction, and virtually no specialist commentary on the music and its\ud relationships with the literature. The main aim of the thesis, therefore, is to demonstrate the\ud variety and strength of the widespread musical elements in Burgess's literature, including the\ud importance he attaches to the sonic basis of language, and to show that these are supported by\ud the musical sensibility and technical competence evident in his. compositions. It is suggested\ud that in the inevitable reassessmenot f his work following his death in 1993, the effects of his\ud musicianship on his literary work should play a greater part than hitherto, and the thesis makes\ud a contribution to this reassessmenbt oth through its original critical commentaries on his music\ud and through the music-orientated discussion of his literature.\ud \ud \ud After an introduction and literature review, the first chapter examines three examples of\ud Burgess's little-known music. All are associated with verbal texts, though the range is\ud otherwise wide, and through them it is possible to draw conclusions about the competence of\ud his handling of musical language and structure. The second and third chapters examine the\ud more familiar work of Burgess the acclaimed author, but from the unfamiliar viewpoint of its\ud musical content, including not only surface references but also hidden allusions and technical\ud puzzles aimed at the musician reader. Two instances of music serving as a structural template\ud for literature are analysed in detail, and attention is also drawn to Burgess's awareness of\ud musical elements in the content and language of the, work of some. of his predecessors. The\ud final core-chapter,e xamines the fusion of Burgess's literary and,m usical skills in the context of\ud his music and words for stage and radio.\ud \ud \ud What emerges is the clear intermeshing of his parallel careers;, and the production within his\ud distinctive literary output of work which, due to the radical extent of its musicalisation, has to\ud be viewed as musically-aware literature for specialised readers, at times evincing, it is\ud proposed, a logic which springs primarily from music

Topics: PN, ML
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:5961

Suggested articles



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  195. (1982). These can be found in Christopher le Fleming's autobiography, Journey into Music (by the slow train), Redcliffe Press,
  196. This hearty simile had been previously used by Burgess in Napoleon Symphony (p.
  197. (1974). This is dated 1974 in the worklist in Burgess, This Man and Music, in discrepancy with the account given in You've had your time which suggests that only the first movement was complete by Christmas
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  199. (1987). This work is given the more authentic-sounding title Sinfoni Melay-u in the first volume of Burgess's autobiography. Little Wilson and Big God
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  203. (1927). To the Lighthouse doi
  204. Traditions and Taboos in High Literature and Popular Modern Genres, Harvester Wheatsheaf, doi
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  206. Tremor of Intent,
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  208. Urgent Copy,
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