A writer who does not perceive his surroundings and human existence in a significantly different way from the majority of his contemporaries can still try to give his language the appearance of originality, he can even write experimental poetry if he enjoys the role of avant-gardist. But a style of one’s own is as unmistakable as a fingerprint; the poet, his person, the whole of his thought and emotions are suspended in it.

I remember when, having just become acquainted with Éric Chevillard and his literature, I encountered the idea in one of his early books that a cock had laid a church there. I looked at the weathercock sitting high up on the church steeple and was startled and touched: was the thought not obvious? Except that it had occurred neither to me nor to anyone else.

About twenty years later I walked with Éric Chevillard through Stuttgart’s pedestrian precinct and past the bust of Schubert. “Amazing that that man could have been such a good pianist,” Éric said. I looked first at him and then at Schubert, who was wedged shoulders down in his stone pedestal.

Still it was not the armless Schubert but Hegel’s voluminous cap, which we had previously seen behind glass in the museum, that found its way into Chevillard’s diary. Presumably the abundance of thoughts and observations springing from the author’s head is simply too great all to be made into literature. Of the intellectual and linguistic fireworks going off in his head, apparently all by themselves, the reader gets to see only those worth of a bouquet final.  


To read the entire piece, purchase your copy of Music & Literature no. 8.