So, I read Jane Eyre, first published in 1847, before I ever read Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca (1938) or Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting (1958). Do you know those two books? Both of them are obviously influenced by Charlotte Brontë’s novel; I’d go so far as to call the Stewart book an homage; and it’s hard to read either without thinking of Jane. I loved and read and re-read all three of them; and eventually the day came when I couldn’t read Jane Eyre without thinking of Rebecca and Nine Coaches Waiting. My appreciation of the novel that was written first began to be influenced by later novels Charlotte Brontë never could have read.
I love that time-travel aspect of intertextuality. Here’s another example: Now, when I read Hamlet (c. 1603), I enjoy it even more than I used to, because I’m bringing Tom Stoppard’s play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1964-65) along with me. And I can’t think of those two plays together without considering the role they play in the book Tam Lin (1991) by Pamela Dean — which is, itself, a retelling of an old tale. Ah! I just love how everything leans on everything else! Everything’s all mixed together in a marvelous mess!
What’s the word for this when it happens with music? My musical understanding is unsophisticated, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t noticed that John Williams, for example, has done a job on me. I grew up listening to Dvorak’s New World Symphony (1893). Then, one day, I noticed that I couldn’t listen to it anymore without thinking of light saber duels and/or sharks. Does this happen to you? Well, if it doesn’t, it might be about to, once I explain. :o) First, go listen to the 3rd movement of the New World Symphony here. The theme I’m going to point out happens repeatedly throughout the movement, but just to make it as clear as possible for those not familiar with the symphony, pay especially close attention when the clock hits 2:32. Listen to the bit from 2:32 to about 2:41; listen to it a couple of times. Then, go here to watch Darth Maul fighting Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon. Turn the sound up. Listen to the little snippet that starts at 0:13, continues through to 0:23, and then repeats at various moments throughout the entire fight. Hear it?
Then there’s the first 15 or so seconds of the 4th movement of the New World Symphony, here, which sound famously like the theme of Jaws, here.
For one more (and vaguer) example, meander to the end of that 4th movement (here’s the link again). I don’t know about you, but this movement, especially the end, sounds really Star Wars-y to me, particularly the bit starting around 8:16, and ESPECIALLY the part later on which is unfortunately cut off in this video, rendering it useless for our purposes here. (Yes, warning: the last minute of so of the movement is cut off, so, if you love the way the symphony ends, prepare to be annoyed and frustrated.)
(Um. If you’re having fun with this, and if you happen to know your E.T.? Check out the last movement of Dvorak’s Dumky Trio here. In particular, listen to the teeny clip from 4:02 to 4:07, and again at 7:58. Sound familiar? [Go to 0:13 of the E.T. theme.])
(Okay, this is the sort of thing where you could never stop giving examples, but here’s one more that’s not John Williams, and that’s a very deliberate borrowing. Know the Sting song “Russians” ? And Sergei Prokofiev’s music for the movie Lieutenant Kijé ? I grew up knowing the Sting song, and was quite startled the first time I heard the Prokofiev!)
Anyway. I’m all for intertextuality. (And inter-score-uality?) How ’bout you? (And got any more musical clips for me? You’ll make my day if you do ^_^)