Introduction : Scott Walker’s ‘New Songs 2016/17ʹ

Wilson, Scott (2020) Introduction : Scott Walker’s ‘New Songs 2016/17ʹ. Journal for Cultural Research, 24(3), pp. 175-184. ISSN (print) 1479-7585


The Introduction to the special issue on Scott Walker briefly highlights the different disciplinary engagements of the essays that follow and offers its own analysis of Walker’s last songs from the perspective of the tradition of lyric poetry. In this essay, Scott Wilson looks specifically at the ‘New Songs’ that were included in Sundog, Walker’s collection of lyrics and assesses them with reference to Jonathan Culler’s recent book Theory of the Lyric. Culler’s book outlines four parameters of the lyric tradition from Sappho and Horace to Williams and Ashbury: enunciative apparatus, hyperbole, ritual and event (rather than mimesis or representation). In this Introduction, Wilson examines the contention that Scott Walker’s lyrics mount a ‘silent defence of this forgotten logic of the lyric’ (Nicola Masciandaro) that has been displaced by the dominant novel-driven aesthetic whose fictional worlds and persona frame or showcase the implied subjectivity of the poet or novelist. In so doing, Wilson suggests that the lyrics of popular song have more in common with the ancient tradition of lyric poetry than modern or contemporary verse.

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