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11 - ‘I’m a Songwriter at Heart, Even When I’m Writing Novels’

Ishiguro and Music

from Part II - Literature, Music, and Film

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 March 2023

Andrew Bennett
Affiliation:
University of Bristol
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Summary

Asked to account for the main influences on his life as a writer, Ishiguro has turned consistently to one idea in particular: that he believes himself to be ‘a songwriter at heart, even when ... writing novels’. His early years as an aspiring musician left an indelible mark, one that is evident across his work: in the musical variations of the stories in Nocturnes, the character of the pianist-protagonist of The Unconsoled, and the insistent motif of the titular pop song in Never Let Me Go, along with many other musical references, allusions, and effects. This chapter seeks to understand something of the quality of Ishiguro’s literary music. It focuses in particular on the fascinating ways in which the most powerfully perceptive and affecting musical moments in the writing are those in which music is simultaneously evoked and kept somehow at a distance.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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