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Mahler's VoicesExpression and Irony in the Songs and Symphonies$
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Julian Johnson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195372397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195372397.001.0001

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Ways of Telling

Ways of Telling

(p.195) 6 Ways of Telling
Mahler's Voices

Julian Johnson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Mahler's symphonies have often been compared to novels, and their method of proceeding likened to that of such writers as Dostoyevsky, Jean Paul, and E. T. A. Hoffmann. This idea is discussed with reference to the theory of Bakhtin. Mahler's relationship to Nietzsche, through his friend Siegfried Lipiner, is explored, while noting his preference for less modern writers. The usual reading of the symphony as a novel is offset by the exploration of alternative narrative models—the idyll, dream, and fairy tale. Where the novel implies a more dramatic and teleological structure, these alternatives exhibit episodic and digressive structures in which the connection between sections is more allusive or tangential. The idea of narrative strategies more generally is considered, focusing on how Mahler's symphonies narrate and, at the same time, undermine their own processes of narration.

Keywords:   novel, Dostoyevsky, Hoffmann, Jean Paul, Eichendorff, idyll, dream, fairy tale, narrative strategies

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