“After Music”

Edited by Marc C. Conner

in The Poetry of James Joyce Reconsidered

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039763
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043159 | DOI:
“After Music”

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This essay extends the groundbreaking work of Myra Russel on the musical elements and traditions of Chamber Music. By tracking Joyce's sources in nineteenth-century collections of Elizabethan music and lyrics, it considers what exactly Chamber Music owes to these variant sources and to what extent the poems do indeed follow Elizabethan concepts of song. The essay argues that Joyce ultimately inscribes the movement in poetry, begun in the Elizabethan era, away from music towards the printed page--from dance to song, from music to print. For in fact, most of the Chamber Music poems are quite un-singable, un-settable to music; yet the poems do attempt to parallel the effects of music, foretelling Joyce's remarkable efforts in the music of language (and the language of music) that culminates in “Sirens” and Finnegans Wake. In the most thorough and sophisticated discussion of music in Joyce's poetry, the essay concludes that this seems to be the impetus of the collection, to celebrate the inscrutability of putting music on the page.

Keywords: Chamber Music; Elizabethan music; Song; Music and poetry; “Sirens”; Finnegans Wake

Chapter.  10345 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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