“Beyond the Sound of Words”: Harmony and Polyphony in Women in Love

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Music and Literature book series (PASTMULI)


“‘Beyond the Sound of Words’: Harmony and Polyphony in Women in Love” maps this novel’s oppositional modes of agitation and stillness against two sound worlds represented by Gerald Crich’s Wagnerian concept of harmony and Birkin’s more ethical polyphony. Gerald’s characterisation as doomed victim of an industrial society in love with war and death is compared with Arnold Bax’s use of Wagner’s “sick Tristan” motif in Tintagel. The composers Philip Heseltine and Cecil Gray rekindled Lawrence’s interest in folk songs, which feature in the novel as a counterbalance to the putative stature of Wagnerian opera. This interplay of the local and the universal in music resonates with Gustav Holst’s Planets Suite (1918), which also resembles Birkin’s “star equilibrium” as a music of the spheres.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Northampton NorthamptonNorthamptonshireUK

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