The Tooth That Nibbles at the Soul: Essays on Music and Poetry

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $67.44
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 10%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (4) from $67.44   
  • New (2) from $71.54   
  • Used (2) from $67.44   


"The Tooth That Nibbles at the Soul brings together Marshall Brown's new and previously published writings on literature and music. These essays engage questions central to the development of literature, music, and the arts from the eighteenth century to the avant-garde movements of the early twentieth." "With a special focus on lyric poetry and canonical composers including Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Faure, Brown ties the growing prominence of music in this period to the modernist principle of abstraction. Music, as he provocatively notes, conveys meaning without explicitly saying anything. This principle of abstraction could be taken as the overriding formula for modernist art in general; and it explains why music becomes the model to which all the other arts, in particular painting and literature, aspire." "Brown's title, taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson, is a reminder that abstraction---musical and artistic---is anything but toothless; indeed, it "nibbles at the soul" in subtle and enduring ways. Throughout his wide ranging and erudite analysis, Brown's goal is to pinpoint the nature of music's bite and to illuminate the shared elements of literature and music" "Marshall Brown is simply one of the finest literary critics we have and one of the very few who are equally at home with literature and music. He writes with wit and verve; no one does close reading better; and he has the gift of constantly being able to surprise as well as to inform and stimulate. All serious students of literature and the arts will want to read this book, which they will find themselves not simply absorbing, but using."

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Eighteenth-Century life - James A. Winn
He brings to discussions of music not only an accurate and precise analytical vocabulary, but the performing experience of a first-class cellist. At a time when many scholars claim to be 'interdisciplinary,'... it is thrilling to encounter the real thing.
Wallace Stevens Journal
The thread that runs through the whole—- the understanding of music and poetry as kindred art forms that resist fixity and capture the motion of our thought—- is deeply engaging, and provides us a language to delve further into the music of poetry and the poetry of music.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780295990057
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Series: Literary Conjugations
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents


1 Introduction: Music and Abstraction 3

2 Music and Fantasy 38

3 German Romanticism and Music 63

4 Negative Poetics: On Skepticism and the Lyric Voice 79

5 Rethinking the Scale of Literary History 99

6 Mozart, Bach, and Musical Abjection 141

7 Moods at Mid-Century: Handel and English Literature, 1740-1760 166

8 Passion and Love: Anacreontic Song and the Roots of Romantic Lyric 199

9 Haydn's Whimsy: Poetry, Sexuality, Repetition 225

10 Non Giovanni: Mozart with Hegel 251

Notes 299

Index 361

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)