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James Joyce’s ‘Linguistic Musicality’

A Short Insight into Some Linguistic Musical Patterns in the First Chapter of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and their Echoes in “Sirens”

Arianna Autieri    Warwick University (UK)    



The central aim of this paper is to show the similarities of some stylistic features of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man with musical code. A second purpose is to verify how these musical features are echoed in “Sirens”. In order to initially describe the common properties of language and music and to define how their acoustic and rhythmic similarities are relevant in written texts, the paper will draw on the theories of the Science of Rhythm – a non-academic discipline that has influenced many modernist writings, and also studied the common rhythmic features of music and language. After detailing a musical method for the analysis of the linguistic texture of written prose, I focus on the first chapter of A Portrait. Hence, I identify the musical characteristics of the novel’s style through a comparison between some Joycean scholars’ theories on music in A Portrait and the principles of the Science of Rhythm. Finally, a few examples of the musical language in “Sirens” will provide a benchmark for a comparison with A Portrait.

21 Dicembre 2018
08 Novembre 2018
03 Settembre 2018

Keywords: Linguistic musicalityStyleJoyceMusicScience of Rhythm

Copyright: © 2018 Arianna Autieri. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.