Musical Stimulacra: Literary Narrative and the Urge to Listen
The title coinage of this book, stimulacra , refers to the fundamental capacity of literary narrative to stimulate our minds and senses by simulating things through words. Musical stimulacra are passages of fi ction that readers are
empowered to transpose into mental simulations of music. The book theorizes how fi ction can generate musical experience, explains what constitutes that experience, and explores the musical dimensions of three American novels: William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central (2005), William H. Gass’s Middle C (2013), and Richard Powers’s Orfeo (2014). Musical Stimulacra approaches fiction’s music from a readerly perspective. Instead of looking at how novels forever fail to compensate for music’s physical, structural, and affective properties, the book concentrates on what literary narrative can do musically. Negotiating common grounds for cognitive audionarratology and intermediality studies, Musical Stimulacra builds its case on the assumption that, among other things, fiction urges us to listen— to musical words and worlds.