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Genetic Criticism and the Creative Process

Genetic Criticism and the Creative Process: Essays from Music, Literature, and Theater

William Kinderman
Joseph E. Jones
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 235
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  • Book Info
    Genetic Criticism and the Creative Process
    Book Description:

    Not only the final outcome but the process of creative endeavor has long attracted attention in various artistic disciplines, but only recently has the potential of such research been seriously explored. The most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches and drafts and preliminary studies, as well as from revised manuscripts and typescripts, corrected proof sheets, and similar primary sources. The term "genetic criticism" or "critique génétique" relates not to the field of genetics, but to the genesis of works of art, as studied in a broad and inclusive context. The essays in this volume explore aspects of genetic criticism in an interdisciplinary context, emphasizing music, literature, and theater. A common thread pertains to the essential continuity between a work and its genesis. This volume brings together essays from leading scholars on subjects ranging from biblical scholarship to Samuel Beckett, and from Beethoven's Eroica Symphony to very recent musical compositions. Contributors: Nicolas Donin, Daniel Ferrer, Alan Gosman, R. B. Graves, Joseph E. Jones, William Kinderman, Jean-Louis Lebrave, Lewis Lockwood, Geert Lernout, Peter McCallum, Armine Kotin Mortimer, and James L. Zychowicz William Kinderman is Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Joseph E. Jones is visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

    eISBN: 978-1-58046-753-7
    Subjects: Music, Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    W. K.
  4. Introduction: Genetic Criticism and the Creative Process
    (pp. 1-16)
    William Kinderman

    Not only the final outcome but also theprocessof creative endeavor has long attracted attention in various artistic disciplines, but only recently has the potential of such research been seriously explored. The most rigorous basis for the study of artistic creativity comes not from anecdotal or autobiographical reports, but from original handwritten sketches and drafts and preliminary studies, as well as from revised manuscripts and typescripts, corrected proof sheets, and similar primary sources. Especially since the eighteenth century, writers, composers, and painters have been much concerned with originality of style, which has encouraged intense preliminary efforts preceding and leading...

  5. Part One: Texts, Variants, and Variations:: Evolving Contexts in Literature and Theater

    • Chapter One From Varieties of Genetic Experience to Radical Philology
      (pp. 19-34)
      Geert Lernout

      At a conference in honor of Hans Walter Gabler, Louis Hay, the founder ofcritique génétique,demonstrated that in France, the success of genetic criticism has been challenged. Apparently, French genetic critics have been so successful that they have been exposed to a torrent of abuse. Since genetic criticism, with some notable exceptions, has not made a significant impact on the study of English literature, some of us might be jealous of such a backlash; at the very least, it shows that in France, genetic criticism has acquired the status of a dominant paradigm that merits questioning and challenging. My...

    • Chapter Two Variant and Variation: Toward a Freudo-bathmologico-Bakhtino-Goodmanian Genetic Model?
      (pp. 35-50)
      Daniel Ferrer

      The aim of this chapter is to clarify the relationship between what genetic critics¹ (or philologists) callvariantsand what musicians callvariations.² Some work that has been done to understand the nature of variation, and in particular Nelson Goodman’s analysis of variation in terms of reference rather than according to formal criteria,³ can help us to define the status of variants. Such a definition may serve as a helpful complement to a general model of the genetic process based on a dialogic relationship between versions.

      There is an obvious connection between the notions of variant and variation: both have...

    • Chapter Three The Genetic Record of a Voice: Variants in Barthes’s Le Plaisir du texte
      (pp. 51-67)
      Armine Kotin Mortimer

      Roland Barthes’s manuscripts have been held at the Institut Mémoire de l’Édition Contemporaine, known as IMEC, since 1996.¹ Before then, I was fortunate enough to be invited in 1990 by Barthes’s half-brother, Michel Salzedo, to examine the manuscript ofLe Plaisir du textein the very apartment where Barthes had lived, rue Servandoni in the 6th arrondissement in Paris. What led me to this genetic line of inquiry was this: a portion of one manuscript page photographed on the cover of the “pocket” edition, in the Points series at the Editions du Seuil, included words not found in the corresponding...

    • Chapter Four Can Genetic Criticism Be Applied to the Performing Arts?
      (pp. 68-80)
      Jean-Louis Lebrave

      As he began work on staging Sophocles’sElectra,Antoine Vitez jotted down notes in which he considered the very feasibility of such a project. He stated that he wished to avoid two “ways” of “playing a Greek tragedy”: actualization and reconstitution. Vitez criticized actualization for being “an ingenuous demagogy,” a “negation . . . of the historical events to be stated,” and reconstitution for “asserting a gap between the work and us.”¹ In an effort to move beyond this dilemma (“Neither actualization nor reconstitution. I am trying to find something else”), Vitez drew upon his experience as a translator by...

    • Chapter Five “The hardy Laurel”: Beckett and Early Film Comedy
      (pp. 81-92)
      Robert B. Graves

      When the first director ofWaiting for Godot, Roger Blin, initially met with Samuel Beckett in 1950 to discuss the production of the play, Blin suggested that it be staged as a circus. Not wanting to offend Blin, Beckett gradually shifted their conversation around to the fi lms of early comics such as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin. According to Deidre Bair, Beckett’s fi rst biographer, Blin immediately got the hint and gave up the circus idea,¹ but one can sympathize with Blin because Vladimir and Estragon themselves compare their evening (albeit unfavorably) to an assortment of popular theatrical forms,...

  6. Part Two: Genetic Processes in Music:: From Beethoven to Leroux

    • Chapter Six From Melodic Patterns to Themes: The Sketches for the Original Version of Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata, Op. 53
      (pp. 95-107)
      Alan Gosman

      Melodic patterns fill Beethoven’s earliest sketches for the first movement of his Piano Sonata in C Major, Op. 53. The entirety of the sketches for the “Waldstein” Sonata are found in the Landsberg 6 sketchbook, on pages 107 and 120–45. Although there was certainly a great deal of compositional planning for the sonata that is not documented in the sketchbook, it is instructive that Beethoven’s nascent sketches so prominently featured patterns. And there are many ways that these patterns open up creative space for the sonata’s themes.

      Example 6.1 transcribes the sketches found on page 107, which are commonly...

    • Chapter Seven From Conceptual Image to Realization: Some Thoughts on Beethoven’s Sketches
      (pp. 108-122)
      Lewis Lockwood

      A contemporary illustration shows a room in Beethoven’s last home in Vienna, a fair-sized apartment in the upper storey of a large building on the Glacis, the so-called House of the Black-Robed Spaniards (theSchwarzspanierhaus), in which he lived for the last eighteen months of his life. This wash drawing was made by Johann Nepomuk Hoechle a few days after Beethoven’s death on March 26, 1827, and it is an act of homage and of mourning for his loss. In the foreground is the big piano that the maker, John Broadwood, had sent him in 1818. Burntout candlesticks stand on...

    • Chapter Eight The Process within the Product: Exploratory Transitional Passages in Beethoven’s Late Quartet Sketches
      (pp. 123-150)
      Peter McCallum

      In several major works of his last decade, Beethoven wrote passages preceding the finales that might be compared to “composing out loud,” where, in a feigned improvisatory moment, the music pauses as though the invisible protagonist driving it has stopped to gather his or her thoughts before embarking on the final musical action. At times, it is as though Beethoven has inserted a page or two from his sketchbook, or is fancifully staging the creator reviewing his options, in a stylized representation of the decision-making steps of the compositional process. In such passages, Beethoven positions himself like Dante, midway through...

    • Chapter Nine “They Only Give Rise to Misunderstandings”: Mahler’s Sketches in Context
      (pp. 151-169)
      James L. Zychowicz

      Like the innovative art and architecture of his time,¹ the music of Gustav Mahler (1860–1911) reflects new approaches to structure in which detail and effect take their place alongside other, more traditional elements.² Yet the creative divergence implicit in such innovation makes it difficult to deal with Mahler’s works in precisely the same way as the music of the preceding generation. Rather, the composer’s emphases are critical to understanding his intentions, and clues are found not only in Mahler’s published correspondence³ and reported conversations,⁴ but also emerge vividly in the sketches and drafts that document his compositional process. While...

    • Chapter Ten A Study of Richard Strauss’s Creative Process: Der Rosenkavalier’s “Presentation Scene” and “Schlußduett”
      (pp. 170-191)
      Joseph E. Jones

      Addressing two significant lacunae in the critical scholarship concerned withDer Rosenkavalierpromises insight into Strauss’s evolving conception of the opera and some of the aesthetic strategies that impacted its completed form. A substantially undervalued area for investigation involves the earliest extant compositional manuscripts, which reveal, above all, Strauss making harmonic choices that would shape the dramatic action of the opera. Although the musical thematic content ofDer Rosenkavalierhas been explored in depth,¹ thorough analysis of the opera’s large-scale tonal planning has yet to be pursued. The following study undertakes such analysis in the process of reevaluating the opera’s...

    • Chapter Eleven Genetic Criticism and Cognitive Anthropology: A Reconstruction of Philippe Leroux’s Compositional Process for Voi(rex)
      (pp. 192-216)
      Nicolas Donin

      It is a truism that sketch studies would not exist without archives dedicated to the creative processes of great artists of the past. Be it in the fields of literature, music, or any other art, sketch studies would be inconceivable were it not for the careful preservation of the artists’ working materials, which presupposes that they kept the documents in the first place, and that authoritative people regarded these artists as sufficiently significant to have the documents archived.

      In view of this situation, the sketch study of a very recent musical work might seem hazardous or even irrelevant to musicology....

  7. Afterword
    (pp. 217-220)
    Philip Gossett

    I had the great pleasure of participating in the conference, organized under the direction of the indefatigable William Kinderman, that led to the present book. That my own essay on Verdi’sLa forza del destinodoes not appear is simply a matter of timing: although I offered some preliminary thoughts aboutForzaat the conference, I still have not completed my investigation of the wonderful manuscripts pertaining to the opera that have been part of the collection of the Mariinsky Theater since 1862, when Verdi directed there the world premiere of the first version of his opera.

    Though, of course,...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 221-224)
  9. Index
    (pp. 225-230)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)