Literature, Music, Art

Saturday July 21, 2012

By Guide Biography: Patrick Kennedy

July is an easygoing month for students, but a busy month for certain kinds of writers. Review writers, for instance. Travel guides, attraction profiles, concert reviews, and commentaries on the year's most anticipated movies are all in high demand. I should know, because (when I'm not writing for About.com) I write reviews. Art exhibitions, restaurants, The Dark Knight Rises--if it's important, I'll be taking a glance at it this summer. For professional purposes, of course.

And since the summer is such a rich season for art and music, it might be a good idea to think about the following question: What, exactly, can writers learn from these other modes of expression? Or what exactly have famous writers already learned? Well, a lot. For German author and philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, music was a stylistic inspiration. In Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Nietzsche wrote passages of fictional dialogue and narration that use short paragraphs to create strong, memorable, musical rhythms.

Other authors in world literature responded to musical and visual art in other ways. Marcel Proust wrote prose that is often as fluid and eloquent as Nietzsche's, but not as evidently "musical." Proust, however, did use his fiction to comment on other forms of art. His great novel, In Search of Lost Time, is populated by painters, actors, and musicians--some of them triumphantly great artists, some of them figures of failure.

What are some other intelligent ways that writers can incorporate music, painting, or theater into their works? Something to think about next time you get museum feet, or have to sit through a long intermission.

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