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The End of Oulipo?

The End of Oulipo? My book (co-authored with Lauren Elkin), published by Zero Books. Available everywhere. Order it from Amazon, or find it in bookstores nationwide. The End of Oulipo

Lady Chatterley’s Brother

Lady Chatterley's Brother. The first ebook in the new TQC Long Essays series, Lady Chatterley's Brothercalled “an exciting new project” by Chad Post of Open Letter and Three Percent. Why can't Nicholson Baker write about sex? And why can Javier Marias? We investigate why porn is a dead end, and why seduction paves the way for the sex writing of the future. Read an excerpt.

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Translate This Book!

Ever wonder what English is missing? Called "a fascinating Life Perecread" by The New Yorker, Translate This Book! brings together over 40 of the top translators, publishers, and authors to tell us what books need to be published in English. Get it on Kindle.

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Naked Singularity

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Fans of Gaddis, Pynchon, DeLillo: A group read of the book that went from Xlibris to the University of Chicago Press. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

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Life A User's Manual by Georges Perec

Starting March 2011, read the greatest novel from an experimental master. Info here. Buy the book here and support this site.

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Tale of Genji

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Two great online lit magazines team up to read a mammoth court drama, the world's first novel.

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A 3-month read of Javier Marias' mammoth book Your Face Tomorrow

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Ten Memorable Quotes from William Gaddis’ Letters

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Here are ten of my favorite moments from these hugely interesting letters.


Interviews from Conversational Reading

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See this page for interviews with leading authors, translators, publishers, and more.


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On Mann and Music

This is a rich, rich subject that we should return to again, but I just wanted to respond briefly to John's remarks re: Hanno, Thomas Mann, and classical music. John writes:

Similarly, after reading Mann's beautiful rendering of Hanno's musical experiences in Part 8, I'm interested to learn more about the role of music in the writer's life. Scott, having enjoyed Doctor Faustus so much, perhaps you've read about Mann's musical background. Was he a musician himself, or was his understanding more scholarly? He seems to grasp the unspeakable aspects of musical communication with enough depth that I imagine he at least played as a hobbyist, but I'm not sure.

I can't speak to whether or not Mann ever tried to compose, but his grasp of the subject was firm enough for Alex Ross to declare Doctor Faustus the greatest book on classical music written in the 20th century. Having not read nearly as many scholarly works on the subject as Ross, I'm in no way qualified to judge that remark, but I can say that my own reading of Faustus greatly enhanced my understanding of classical music.

One of my pet peeves about classical music writing is that generally writers attempt to put the music into words, but it either ends up sounding like a bunch of jargon of a bunch of flowery language that in no way conveys anything vaguely musical. Well, Mann writes a lot about the sounds of music in Faustus (he does, after all have an entire fictitious oeuvre to describe) and I can hear Adrian's pieces. If nothing else, Mann can evoke the feel of music on the page, no mean feat.

I think Mann also must have had a firm grasp of the subject-matter since he includes a full, lengthy, and in my opinion quite lucid lecture on Beethoven's final piano sonata in Faustus. (Ross also admires it.) Some of the knowledge Mann exhibits on this subject in Faustus also comes through in descriptions of classical music in Buddenbrooks vis a vis Hanno.

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  1. Faulkner and Music One of the most intriguing things I've learned while reading (and reading about) Buddenbrooks is that it was supposedly Faulkner's favorite novel. (This is an...
  2. More Mann to Come (?) I’m somewhat surprised to see that people seem to have responded rather favorably to my somewhat casually strewn thoughts on Doctor Faustus. They were even...
  3. Doctor Faustus I’ve been slowly making my way through Thomas Mann’s Doctor Faustus. Despite recently reading proust, Grass, and Kenzaburo Oe, I can pretty easily say that...
  4. This Month, We’ll Be Reading Buddenbrooks Last spring I was completely blown away by Thomas Mann's novel Doctor Faustus. On the spot I vowed to read more Mann, and then didn't...
  5. Mann und Englisch Per Scott and Sacha, I'm also reading Woods' translation instead of the H.T. Lowe-Porter. Beyond my general preference of new translations over old (there are...

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3 comments to On Mann and Music

  • j.

    like the schopenhauer earlier on, i think there’s also cribbing from adorno and probably schoenberg’s writing itself in ‘faustus’.

  • mk

    And there is an extended portion in The Magic Mountain, where Hans Castorp takes charge of the gramophone and gets deeply involved in his collection of music.

  • TDL

    John Hargraves wrote a book on Music in Broch, Mann, and Kafka, called, wait for it… MUSIC IN BROCH, MANN, AND KAFKA.

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