The Tooth That Nibbles at the Soul brings together Marshall Brown's new and previously published writings on literature and music. These essays engage questions central to the development of literature, music, and the arts from the eighteenth century to the avant-garde movements of the early twentieth.
With a special focus on lyric poetry and canonical composers including Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Faure, Brown ties the growing prominence of music in this period to the modernist principle of abstraction. Music, as he provocatively notes, conveys meaning without explicitly saying anything. This principle of abstraction could be taken as the overriding formula for modernist art in general; and it explains why music becomes the model to which all the other arts, in particular painting and literature, aspire.
Brown's title, taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson, is a reminder that abstraction---musical and artistic---is anything but toothless; indeed, it "nibbles at the soul" in subtle and enduring ways. Throughout his wide ranging and erudite analysis, Brown's goal is to pinpoint the nature of music's bite and to illuminate the shared elements of literature and music
"Marshall Brown is simply one of the finest literary critics we have and one of the very few who are equally at home with literature and music. He writes with wit and verve; no one does close reading better; and he has the gift of constantly being able to surprise as well as to inform and stimulate. All serious students of literature and the arts will want to read this book, which they will find themselves not simply absorbing, but using."
- Poetry, Music, Literary Criticism, Literary Collections
- Instruction + Study / Theory, History + Criticism, General, Essays
- June 1, 2010
- June 1, 2010
- Marshall Brown