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Music and the Ineffable - Vladimir Jankelevitch

Music and the Ineffable

Hardcover Published: 28th July 2003
ISBN: 9780691090474
Number Of Pages: 200

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Vladimir Jankelevitch left behind a remarkable œuvre steeped as much in philosophy as in music. His writings on moral quandaries reflect a lifelong devotion to music and performance, and, as a counterpoint, he wrote on music aesthetics and on modernist composers such as Faure, Debussy, and Ravel. Music and the Ineffable brings together these two threads, the philosophical and the musical, as an extraordinary quintessence of his thought. Jankelevitch deals with classical issues in the philosophy of music, including metaphysics and ontology. These are a point of departure for a sustained examination and dismantling of the idea of musical hermeneutics in its conventional sense.


Music, Jankelevitch argues, is not a hieroglyph, not a language or sign system; nor does it express emotions, depict landscapes or cultures, or narrate. On the other hand, music cannot be imprisoned within the icy, morbid notion of pure structure or autonomous discourse. Yet if musical works are not a cipher awaiting the decoder, music is nonetheless entwined with human experience, and with the physical, material reality of music in performance. Music is "ineffable," as Jankelevitch puts it, because it cannot be pinned down, and has a capacity to engender limitless resonance in several domains. Jankelevitch's singular work on music was central to such figures as Roland Barthes and Catherine Clement, and the complex textures and rhythms of his lyrical prose sound a unique note, until recently seldom heard outside the francophone world.

"Among significant influences in 20th-century philosophical thought on music, perhaps none is as sweeping as that of Vladimir Jankelevitch. Yet until now his works have not been widely available in English... Still provocative after 40 years, this book offers fascinating, fresh, and Occasionally befuddling perspectives on the vital phenomenon that is music."--Choice

The Charme of Jankelevitchp. vii
Jankelevitch's Singularityp. xiii
Preface: Music and the Ineffablep. xxi
The "Ethics" and the "Metaphysics" of Musicp. 1
Orpheus or the Sirens?p. 3
Bearing a Grudge against Musicp. 7
Music and Ontologyp. 9
The Inexpressive "Espressivo"p. 16
The Mirage of Development. The Reprisep. 16
The Illusion of Expressionp. 25
Impressionismp. 29
The Inexpressive and Objectivityp. 32
Violencep. 39
Expressing Nothing Whatsoever. Affected Indifferencep. 42
The Opposite, Something Else, Less. Humor Allusion, and Understatementp. 46
To Describe, to Evoke, to Recount along Rough Linesp. 51
To Suggest in Retrospectp. 59
To Express the Inexpressible into Infinityp. 62
Serious and Frivolous, Deep and Superficial. Musical Ambiguityp. 64
The Ineffable and the Untellable. The Meaning of Meaningp. 71
The Charm and the Alibip. 77
The Poetic Operationp. 77
Fevroniya, or Innocencep. 84
The Spatial Miragep. 90
Temporality and the Nocturnep. 93
Divine Inconsistency. The Invisible City of Kitezhp. 98
The Bergamasque Charm. Melody and Harmonyp. 104
Allegretto Bergamasque. Pianissimo Sonore, Forte con Sordinap. 111
Wisdom and Musicp. 119
"Laetitiae Comes"p. 125
Music and Silencep. 130
Notesp. 157
Index of Namesp. 169
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691090474
ISBN-10: 0691090475
Audience: Tertiary; University or College
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 200
Published: 28th July 2003
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.38