9 Musicalized Fiction and Intermediality: Theoretical Aspects of Word and Music Studies [1999]

In: Selected Essays on Intermediality by Werner Wolf (1992–2014)


The essay raises some basic theoretical issues of word and music studies with a view to elucidating musicalized fiction as a special case of musicalized literature. It pleads for an integration of this field of research into the framework of intermediality studies and focuses on intermediality, the involvement of several media in the signification of an artefact, as an issue of particular relevance. Moreover, a general typology of intermediality in this sense is proposed, in which Scher’s category ‘music and literature’ is classified as ‘overt or direct intermediality’, whereas his types ‘music in literature’ and ‘literature in music’ appear as variants of ‘covert or indirect intermediality’. On this general basis a more detailed typology of forms of musical presence in literature is outlined, in which musicalized fiction can be identified as a case of covert intermediality consisting in the ‘imitation’ of music. Technically, this is carried out by what Scher has termed ‘word music’ and ‘structural analogies to music’ as well as by ‘imaginary content analogies to music’. Individually or jointly these devices can contribute to a referential form of musicalization, namely ‘verbal music’, that is, the quasi-‘intertextual’ verbalization of a specific work of music. As the technical forms only implicitly suggest music, the recognition of musicalization in literature is a problem. It can, however, be clarified to a certain extent by explicit ‘thematizations’ of music(alization). The essay concludes with opening historical and functional perspectives for further research on musico-literary intermediality.

Selected Essays on Intermediality by Werner Wolf (1992–2014)

Theory and Typology, Literature-Music Relations, Transmedial Narratology, Miscellaneous Transmedial Phenomena



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