Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music

Trivia: Musical Books

By posted at 3:58 am on September 14, 2007 2

A very cursory beginning!

  1. “Lillubulero,” in Lawerence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy
  2. “La ci darem la mano,” from Mozart’s opera Don Giovanni, in James Joyce’s Ulysses
  3. The “Hoffmann Barcarolle” of Jacques Offenbach “played” by Sherlock Holmes on the violin in Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Mazarin Stone” (the piece itself comes from Offenbach’s “Tales of Hoffmann”, a musical rendering of some of the German Romantic writer, painter, and musical composer E.T.A Hoffmann’s tales)
  4. Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch becomes “Venus in Furs,” by the Velvet Underground
  5. Beethoven’s 5th Symphony features prominently in E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End (&, on a more scholarly note, Forster’s use of “the rainbow bridge” imagery, in the furtherance of the “only connect” theme, is taken from Richard Wagner’s Das Reingold, wherein the rainbow bridge appearing at the end conveys the gods to their paradisical new home Walhalla, see John Louis DiGaetani’s Richard Wagner and the Modern British Novel)
  6. The Beggars’ Opera by John Gay becomes “Mac the Knife” by Bobby Darrin, et al.
  7. “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles becomes Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
  8. E.T.A. Hoffman’s The Life and Opinions of Tomcat Murr, the fantastical autobiography of a literate cat interspersed with the autobiography of his musician owner, Kapellmeister Kreisler (a fictionalized self-portrait of Hoffmann, himself a musical composer (as above); Tomcat Murr was the name of Hoffmann’s own tabby cat – and performs some katzenmusik himself in the novel)
  9. Alexandre Dumas (fils)’s novel La Dame aux Camelias becomes Giuseppi Verdi’s opera La Traviata
  10. And finally – though I come by this disingenuously because I haven’t read it – Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho: I hear tell that it’s got some very funny discussions of pop music, including the assertion that Genesis was the greatest British band of 80’s…
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2 Responses to “Trivia: Musical Books”

  1. Jason
    at 12:25 am on September 16, 2007

    don't forget douglas coupland: eleanor rigby, girlfriend in a coma…

  2. Emily Colette Wilkinson
    at 7:50 pm on September 22, 2007

    … & Zadie Smith's On Beauty (a homage to Howard's End) uses Mozart's Requiem in place of Beethoven's 5th

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