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Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"

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Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"  [#permalink]

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New post Updated on: 13 Sep 2019, 03:47
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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

(A)studied neutrality
(B)muted criticism
(C)scholarly indifference
(D)qualified admiration
(E)unbridled enthusiasm




Originally posted by vscid on 28 Nov 2007, 18:09.
Last edited by SajjadAhmad on 13 Sep 2019, 03:47, edited 2 times in total.
Updated - Complete topic (544).
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Re: Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"  [#permalink]

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New post 03 May 2016, 23:31
I got only 3/7 right. need explanations for 1,2,4 &6.

For 3rd, why author mentions Duras' lack of success as a filmmaker in order to -
goes to the last para where it says "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---" . Hence he is mentioning Duras lack of success in order to show that Dialogue has a different effect that Visual, which makes it more successful.
For 7 - I just followed POE. A-C & E are all harsh & out of scope choices, only D made sense to me.
Hope this helps.

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Re: Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"  [#permalink]

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New post 04 May 2016, 06:46
komalsidana wrote:
I got only 3/7 right. need explanations for 1,2,4 &6.

For 3rd, why author mentions Duras' lack of success as a filmmaker in order to -
goes to the last para where it says "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---" . Hence he is mentioning Duras lack of success in order to show that Dialogue has a different effect that Visual, which makes it more successful.
For 7 - I just followed POE. A-C & E are all harsh & out of scope choices, only D made sense to me.
Hope this helps.

Thanks,
Komal


thanks for the explanations of 3 and 7

I am not good at explaining stuff but I will try.

1) 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

A) The author of this passage is definitely not providing the reader with a definition. I guess this was pretty clear. The 1st para mentions that we cant classify diff novels under the same banner
B) Could be the answer, lets read others. But I highly doubt, because this is only a part of the primary concern (2nd and 3rd para, somewhat 4th) but the author is more concerned in describing the works of these writers than comparing them.
C) This options works better than B) simply because its mentioned in the 1st para "ut 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." -----> strong contender
D) Definitely not providing guidelines for interpreting musical novels, only describes 2 different novels and compares a few points between those novels.
E) To evaluate something, the author must point out the +ve's and -ve's of both the works, mention and all cover all the different works (not just 2) and provide a satisfactory conclusion to evalute it. SO no

So between B) and C), its clearly C

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

A) Clearly written in the 4th para : " and so they overlook what makes Moderato Cantabile a truly musical novel: It is actually "heard" by the reader."
option A) is opposite of this-----> hence I selected it
B) irrelevant
C) could be true but not strong enough, need more assumptions to make this the ans
D) irrelevant
E) same as C)

4) 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.

THis is tough, more confusing the 2nd time.

A) and E) are out ----------> atleast as per my reasoning, these two options are not mentioned anywhere in the 2nd para
D) tempting to chose, but its not mentioned anywhere that Anne's return corresponds to the end of a sonata. I felt we need to assume this to be true ( doubtful but a contender)
between B) and C) it was a tough choice but these two options are more strong than D) ------> atleast now I had a 50% chance of getting it right.
IN such cases, I usually go with the straight forward choice. IN this case C) is pretty straight forward (at least according to me). I am still not clear regarding the murder representing the modulation of the 2nd theme, so I eliminated it . IF someone can shed some more light on this, then it will be cool. Thanks in advance

can some one please explain Q5)? got it wrong the 2nd time :(
Why not B)

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.

Pretty straight forward for me.
A) this is not mentioned anywhere, ------> the author calls it an interesting form for expressing human feelings,thats it.
B) Music is too broad a term, plus its not mentioned its effective.
C) "cannot be "heard" by the reader" ----> too -ve, not inferred by the author.
D) This too is not mentioned anywhere.
E) has to be E) by POE plus it makes logical sense too.
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Re: Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jan 2017, 08:17
Such a hellish passage :shock: :shock:
Can't believe that this is under 600-700 category :!: :!: :?:

Can anyone please help with the first and second question?

I couldn't figure out the clues for the correct answer.
Thanks
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Re: Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jan 2017, 08:35
sleepynut wrote:
Such a hellish passage :shock: :shock:
Can't believe that this is under 600-700 category :!: :!: :?:

Can anyone please help with the first and second question?

I couldn't figure out the clues for the correct answer.
Thanks



1. Pay attention to the first para. It talks about how musical novels are over simplified.
In the succeeding paras the passage gives examples of how the musical novels have more to it and don't have a particular definition.
Keeping these two points we can say C is the correct answer.

2. The answer to this lies in the second and last para.

the excerpt :
Virginia Woolf uses musical techniques to evoke imagery.

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".

Using these two excerpts we can safely conclude option A.

Hope this helps.
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Re: Literary critics are fond of referring to a work as a "musical novel"   [#permalink] 19 Jan 2017, 08:35
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