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Musical Performance and Textual Performativity in Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Slavic and Baltic Studies, Finnish, Dutch, and German.
2016 (English)In: Danish Musicology Online, ISSN 1904-237X, 93-108 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

Musical Performane and Textual Performativity in Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher

 

This article deals with the question of how literary narration may be enriched or challenged by referring to musical performance in the plot. It will be argued that narrated performance is a means to highlight aspects of language that are dependent on bodily presence. Referring to the performer in the narrative draws attention to how the narrating text itself performs, stages, and presents.

These questions are highly relevant when discussing Elfriede Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher (Die Klavierspielerin, 1983). The article explores the way how intermedial references to musical performance in the diegesis interact with the self-referential performativity of Jelinek’s prose. The novel’s protagonist, Erika Kohut, is a pianist and piano teacher and many intermedial references to music highlight the bodily strain to produce music by means of violent metaphors. These metaphors relate performance of music to the protagonist’s deviant sexual behavior.

Erika Kohut’s disturbed sexuality thus reveals something more than a perverted individual. In the text, her actions in the diegesis reveal a performative connection to what is discussed in literary discourse. Thus, the novel not only points out its criticism on how music has been instrumentalized, but the narrative plot also gains the performative ability to actually do what usually is said about music. Intermedial reference to musical performance connected with violence thus appears as a means to increase the performative impact of the literary text.

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. 93-108 p.
Keyword [en]
Elfriede Jelinek, The Piano Teacher, Performativity, Performance, Music, Intermediality
Keyword [de]
Die Klavierspielerin, Intermedialität, Performanz, Performativität, Musik
National Category
Humanities
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-139033OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-139033DiVA: diva2:1070537
Projects
The Common Ground of Violence and Music in Literature
Note

This article was written with financial support of the foundation Sven and Dagmar Salén Stiftelsen.

Available from: 2017-02-01 Created: 2017-02-01 Last updated: 2017-03-14

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http://www.danishmusicologyonline.dk/arkiv/arkiv_dmo/dmo_saernummer_2016/dmo_saernummer_2016_WMS_08.pdf

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