Wortmaschine: Electronic Music in Contemporary German Literature

Karoline Baumann


In "The Musicalization of Fiction", Werner Wolf states that "the inevitable linearity of the reading process" fundamentally distinguishes the reception of literary writing from that of (polyphonic) music. Yet, according to Bakhtin, "in the novel, we can always hear voices, even while silently reading to ourselves." This article analyses musico-literary intermediality in the way it occurs in the works of three contemporary German writers: Rainald Goetz, Andreas Neumeister and Thomas Meinecke. While Goetz strives to render textually the physical experience of a techno rave, Neumeister uses the acoustic surface structure of words to create a particular sound without, however, giving up on language's semantic function. Meinecke shares with Neumeister the postmodern belief that instead of creating something new and "original", authors use pre-existing material which they merely "re-mix" like DJs (or TJs, text jockeys). Meinecke creates a polyphony of voices by "sampling" textual material from all kinds of sources theoretical texts, historical documents, newspaper articles without using quotation marks at all, since they would falsely suggest the possibility of determining with certainty "who is speaking." The article discusses the usefulness of such musico-literary analogies as well as their aesthetic outcome.


Intermediality; Music and Literature; Techno Literature; Bakhtin; Meinecke; Goetz; Neumeister; Literary Sampling; Polyphony; Polychronicity

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