Beethoven and Literary Modernism
This introductory chapter suggests that the customary critical focus on formal correspondences between literary and musical art works doesn’t help us grasp how the modernists knew that so many references to Beethoven’s life and music in and around 1900 were references to conventional ways of talking and writing about his life and music, references which had by that point long since become part of the cultural vernacular. It argues that once we allow for a modernist musicality in this sense, we open up the possibility of a new way of talking about the place of the Beethovenian in early twentieth-century literature—we make it feasible to see modernist writers not only as the inheritors of Beethovenian rebelliousness, but also as critics of the very rhetorical means with which the rebelliousness of Beethoven acquired legendary status.
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