Books, Music, and Art: Gifts From Donna Tartt

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina
Arvo Part
I am still thinking of Donna Tartt. The Goldfinch. And all the ways her writing effects me. 

One of the things that I love about Donna Tartt’s writing is how she always opens doors to me. She has given me a whole new point of view on what it is to be a student in the classic languages of Latin and Greek. She has shown me the abyss of drug and alcohol abuse. She portrays Christmases which are less than merry and bright. She makes it desirable to be an avid reader of classic literature such as The Idiot, to whom Prince Myshkin is referenced in the last part of her latest book. And in reading The Goldfinch she has not only brought to life a previously obscure to me painting, but music which I searched on the spot. And immediately downloaded.

You, probably, have already heard of these composers. You, probably, already have them in queue on you iPod. But as for me, I had heard of neither Giovanni Pierlugi da Palestrina, who was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music, nor Arvo Part, an Estonian composer who based his minimalist style on Gregorian chant.

Both of these composers write music which is one of Tartt’s gifts to me this Christmas. For it is by her writing of these men that I am now aware of their glorious music.
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14 thoughts on “Books, Music, and Art: Gifts From Donna Tartt”

  1. Oh, Tom, we could have a long discussion about Prince Myshkin. I have to come see your thoughts about him, but mine are not nice. I understand that Dostoesvsky wanted to write of a truly good soul; to me he created a fool with no backbone. Not Christlike at all.

    As to the music, it does not play a particularly meaningful part. Pippa, the only likeable girl in the novel (to me) was also in the MOMA when the bomb exploded. She copes with her post traumatic stress by listening to her iPod. These two composers were the two she told Theo about, and I had to know their music. It's absolutely ethereal.

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  2. Well! Here's another who hasn't read Tartt.She's going on the list. When I'll get to her is something else.

    On the other hand, I'm delighted that you've found Palestrina and Part. I love them both. My favorite Part is “Silentium”, which is available on YouTube. Another favorite is Eric Whitacre. You can find his setting of Robert Frost's “Stopping by Woods” here .

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  3. Well, you haven't read Tartt, and I haven't heard Whitacre. That is one of the reasons we “need” each other. Of course, I'm not one bit surprised that you know and love both Palestrina and Part. xo When I'm looking up Ally's suggestion, I'll also listen to yours.

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  4. So true, Belezza. After reading the book, I was googling for the music and landed on this post. I did feel terribly uncultured after reading the book when I realized that the goldfinch is an actual painting and not fictional 😦

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    1. I knew about the painting, but I had never heard of Arvo Partt. before. Now I have several of his albums; he’s wonderful! One of the things I’ve done since blogging about books is to take note of the music (or other book titles) an author weaves into his or her writing. Then, I look it up for myself. I’m often surprised, pleasantly so, about what I hear. Or, read. Glad you stumbled on this post in your search; gladder still that you are now aware of such wonderful music. And, art.

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