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“Wanting everything, he is left with nothing”: The mise en abyme of paradoxical duplication in Gabriel Josipovici’s Goldberg: Variations
Dalarna University, School of Humanities and Media Studies, Portuguese. University of Lisbon Centre for English Studies. (Literature, identity and Transculturality)
2015 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Gabriel Josipovici’s novel, Goldberg: Variations (2002), establishes at onset an immediate connection to music as it alludes to Bach’s colon-less Goldberg Variations. The reference naturally moves beyond the title as Josipovici appropriates the well-known anecdote in Johann Sebastian Bach’s life and transposes it to an English country house in the 1800s. In the novel, Goldberg is not a harpsichordist, but rather a jobbing writer of Jewish origin, whose task is to write during the day in the hope of later at night sending to sleep Tobias Westfield, an insomniac aristocrat.

A constellation of allusions to this episode from Bach’s life informs the novel throughout, and together with other multiple musical references (there are, for instance, reflections on the notions of polyphony and fugue in different chapters of the novel), it becomes clear that music is bound to play an important role in the economy of the novel. But nowhere is this more evident than in Chapter 16, when Josipovici yet again draws on Bach and restages his The Musical Offering, with Goldberg offering a series of literary treatments of one theme. This variation-based structure of the chapter reflects the macrostructure of the novel as a whole and can thus be taken seen as a mise en abyme, for it seems “to contain the work that actually contains it”, as Juliana de Nooy concisely put it.

Drawing on this, this paper shall seek to explore how the trope of the mise en abyme of paradoxical duplication operates in Josipovici’s novel, focusing on a first stage on the way that duplication takes place and then reflecting on the thematic implications which the use of that literary device enacts on the text.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015.
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
Kultur, identitet och gestaltning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:du-18987OAI: oai:DiVA.org:du-18987DiVA: diva2:845176
Conference
The 4th Conference of the European Narratology Network, Ghent University, 16-18 April 2015
Available from: 2015-08-11 Created: 2015-08-11 Last updated: 2015-08-11Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Cite
Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
  • Other style
More styles
Language
  • de-DE
  • en-GB
  • en-US
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  • nn-NO
  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
  • text
  • asciidoc
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