Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel" whenever a writer employs techniques that can be conveniently described in musical terminology, but the notion that all such works are of the same genre is an oversimplification. The writers who have given us the most important "musical novels" have used musical techniques for very different purposes.
In The Waves, Virginia Woolf uses musical techniques to evoke imagery. Early in the novel, a descriptive leitmotif is introduced for each of the six characters, and colors associated with different settings are like chords that are sounded again and again. A musical composition, however, is heard in time; a novel exists outside of time. In this sense, the words of a novel are more like the notes of a score, and the reader like the musician; so Woolf needed a literary device to keep time. Her solution is again visual and is expressed in the novel's title. The rise and fall of the sea waves are a metronome, seen but not heard by the reader; like the movements of the conductor's baton, they provide the tempo.
In Moderato Cantabile, Marguerite Duras follows the form of the first movement of a sonata, presenting and developing two contrasting themes in different keys--the first tonic, the second dominant--and finally resolving them in a recapitulation by modulation of the second theme to the key of the first theme, thereby providing resolution and closure, an interesting form for exploring the duality of human experience. "Moderato" indicates measure and control, and the time signature of the sonata is a square four-four: Anne's life is structured and boring. "Cantabile" signifies the lyrical impulse: She is stifled by a structured, boring life. In the second chapter, Anne begins her strange affair with Chauvin. Chauvin, or the second theme, is Anne's quest for the "cantabile." They meet again and again, at the same bar and always at the same time of day, until the eighth chapter. Then, just as the eighth note of the musical scale is the same as the first--the tonic--but an octave higher, the final resolution comes in the form of a symbolic reenactment of the murder that occurs at the end of the first chapter:
Chauvin: I wish you were dead.
Anne: I already am.
And Anne returns permanently to her boring life.
When most literary critics pronounce both The Waves and Moderato Cantabile "musical novels," it is these gross features that they have in mind; and so they overlook what makes Moderato Cantabile a truly musical novel: It is actually "heard" by the reader. The novel is mostly dialogue punctuated by the sounds of a radio, boats, and crowds, like musical phrases defined by rests; all that we know and all that we need to know of Anne and Chauvin is what we hear them say. Ironically, this technique that makes Moderato Cantabile more successful than The Waves as a "musical novel" may account for Duras' relative lack of success as a filmmaker. Despite the great success of herscreenplay for "Hiroshima, Mon Amour," few of the 19 films that she wrote and directed did well, primarily because words often replaced action entirely.
1.The author's primary concern is to
(A)provide a definition for the phrase "musical novel"
(B)compare the literary works of Virginia Woolf to those of Marguerite Duras
(C)show that the term "musical novel" does not have a clear, unambiguous meaning
(D)provide guidelines for interpreting musical novels
(E)evaluate the relative effectiveness of different literary techniques
2.According to the author, The Waves is less successful than Moderato Cantabile in creating the experience of music for the reader because
(A)Woolf used musical devices primarily to evoke visual images
(B)sea waves make a rhythmic crashing sound as they break on the beach
(C)The Waves does not parallel a musical structure such as a sonata
(D)a conductor's baton is seen but not heard by audience members
(E)the title Moderato Cantabile has a musical significance
3.The author mentions Duras' lack of success as a filmmaker in order to
(A)prove that good novelists do not necessarily make good filmmakers
(B)help show that dialogue has a different effect than imagery
(C)demonstrate that Duras was an artist who wasmore than just a writer
(D)suggest that a successful filmmaker needs to use action as well as dialogue
(E)suggest that most great novels cannot be made into great films
4. Which of the following conclusions can be inferred about the musical structure of Moderato Cantabile?
(A)Chapter two of the novel is intended to represent the recapitulation.
(B)The symbolic re-enactment of the murder represents the modulation of the second theme.
(C)Anne corresponds to the tonic theme, and Chauvin corresponds to the dominant theme.
(D)Anne's return to her previous life corresponds to the end of a sonata.
(E)The murder in the first chapter echoes the "moderato" of the novel's title.
5. Which of the following musical interpretations of the final exchange between Anne and Chauvin would the author most likely agree with?
(A)The Anne theme has been modulated into the Chauvin theme and continues to survive Anne's departure.
(B)Chauvin has absorbed the Anne theme, thereby providing the reconciliation of the final part of the movement.
(C)Anne has renounced the Anne theme in favor of the Chauvin theme, so no reconciliation has actually occurred.
(D)Both the Anne theme and the Chauvin theme continue to exist side by side in Anne and can never be reconciled.
(E)The Chauvin theme has been modulated into the Anne theme and thereby extinguished in a reconciliation.
6. With which of the following statements would the author most likely agree?
(A)The musical form of the sonata is ideal for exploring the complexities of human feelings.
(B)Music is a more effective art form for expressing the duality of experience than literature.
(C)Unless a novel has a title and subject matter that suggest musical form, it cannot be "heard" by the reader.
(D)Novels with musical structures are interesting experiments but will not likely produce serious literature.
(E)Musical structures and techniques can be used to enhance the effectiveness of a literary work.
7. The author's attitude toward Duras' work can best be described as