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

Holloway, Michael L. (1997) Music in words : the music of Anthony Burgess, and the role of music in his literature. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Theý principal focus of the thesis is Anthony Burgess, a prolific novelist whose first and
enduring creative passion was music in general and composition in particular. Burgess
criticism is limited and largely out-of-date, showing little recognition of the aural or musical
elements in his fiction, and virtually no specialist commentary on the music and its
relationships with the literature. The main aim of the thesis, therefore, is to demonstrate the
variety and strength of the widespread musical elements in Burgess's literature, including the
importance he attaches to the sonic basis of language, and to show that these are supported by
the musical sensibility and technical competence evident in his. compositions. It is suggested
that in the inevitable reassessmenot f his work following his death in 1993, the effects of his
musicianship on his literary work should play a greater part than hitherto, and the thesis makes
a contribution to this reassessmenbt oth through its original critical commentaries on his music
and through the music-orientated discussion of his literature.

After an introduction and literature review, the first chapter examines three examples of
Burgess's little-known music. All are associated with verbal texts, though the range is
otherwise wide, and through them it is possible to draw conclusions about the competence of
his handling of musical language and structure. The second and third chapters examine the
more familiar work of Burgess the acclaimed author, but from the unfamiliar viewpoint of its
musical content, including not only surface references but also hidden allusions and technical
puzzles aimed at the musician reader. Two instances of music serving as a structural template
for literature are analysed in detail, and attention is also drawn to Burgess's awareness of
musical elements in the content and language of the, work of some. of his predecessors. The
final core-chapter,e xamines the fusion of Burgess's literary and,m usical skills in the context of
his music and words for stage and radio.

What emerges is the clear intermeshing of his parallel careers;, and the production within his
distinctive literary output of work which, due to the radical extent of its musicalisation, has to
be viewed as musically-aware literature for specialised readers, at times evincing, it is
proposed, a logic which springs primarily from music.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID
Uncontrolled Keywords: Mass media,Performing arts,Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature of music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2009 15:42
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2015 22:06


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