Musical Performane and Textual Performativity in Elfriede Jelinek's The Piano Teacher
2016 (English)In: Danish Musicology Online, ISSN 1904-237X, Vol. Word and Music Studies, 85-99 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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. Vol. Word and Music Studies, 85-99 p.
Intermediality, Performativity, Performance, Elfriede Jelinek, The Piano Teacher, Word and Music Studies, Music
Musik, Die Klavierspielerin, Performativität, Performanz, Intermedialität
General Literature Studies Specific Languages
Research subject Humanities, Comparative literature; Humanities, German literature
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-60259OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-60259DiVA: diva2:1070519
“Emerging Paradigms: New Methodologies in Word and Music Studies.” November 13–15, 2014 at Aarhus University, Denmark
ProjectsThe Common Ground of Music and Violence in Literature