Influence of Music on American Literature Since 1890. A History of Aesthetic Counterpoint

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Music and literature are the so-called “sister arts,” and since around 1890, many of the American writers who use music in their works have created their hybrid, musico-literary worlds by focusing on two or three of the following musical elements: counterpoint, Wagnerian music dramas, and player pianos. This work explores the changing American discourse as a contrapuntal rope consisting of three symbolic elements/threads interacting in a unique way in the periods of realism/naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism.


“Professor Magome’s examination of the relationship between music and American literature is one of the most original and provocative studies I have read in the past thirty years. . . . [The author] explores imaginatively and perceptively the close relationship between the “sister arts,” music and literature (mainly fiction) during the periods of realism/naturalism, modernism, and postmodernism. Her study is groundbreaking and impressive, not just in its scope but in the depth and intelligence of the argument.” – Ronald Emerick, Professor of English, Indiana University of Pennsylvania

“The writers this book deals with are so diverse—the realists like Henry James and Mark Twain, the modernists like T.S. Eliot, the postmodernists like Kurt Vonnegut and John Bart, and the contemporary writers like Richard Powers and Greg Bear—but their common interest in and influence from music will be clarified. [In reading this book the work of these authors] will come to sound like a beautiful, if intricate, symphony.” – Nobuo Kamioka, Professor, Department of English, Gakushuin University

Table of Contents

1. Musico-Literary Studies, Socio-Aesthetic Studies and the Contrapuntal History of American Literature since 1890
2. American Realist/Naturalist Literature and European Romantic Music: The Process of Awakening
3. Modernist Musico-Literary Discourse of Centrifugal and Centripetal Power: The Image of Constellations
4. Musico-Cybernetic Novels after World War II: Obsession with the Image of Player Pianos
5. Musico-Genetix Novels since the 1950s: Counterpoint in the Image of the DNA Double-Helix
Conclusion: The Contrapuntal History of American Literature from the Present to the Future

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