Nick Cave is possibly the most successful and world-wide known Australian cultural icon. Born in Warrachnabeal, Victoria in 1957, Cave has always crossed and still crosses geographical and artistic borders, moving freely between different continents and art forms (and in particular between music and literature). Internationally praised as the singer/songwriter of the two most important Australian bands of the last decades – The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds (established in 1984) – Cave is also an author, screenwriter, painter and actor who moved to London (where he currently lives) in the early Eighties and then to West Berlin, to later relocate in Brazil. In this sense Cave is the perfect embodiment of Salman Rushdie’s concept of “translated man”, that is someone who is translated across cultures (in Case’s case very often between European and Australian cultures). As Rushdie observes in his seminal essay Imaginary Homelands (1991) “it is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately that something can also be gained”, the outcome of this process of translation is indeed the double nature of the postcolonial artist who is both an insider and outsider, who can see and analyze European and Australian realities through a very rich and complex perspective; in Cave’s specific case this process of translation also implies the capacity of translating between different languages or arts. In Cave’s world different art forms speak to each other in a process of reciprocal hybridization. Cave’s songs have the complexity of literary texts and his novels and poems are very much musical. While living in West Berlin Cave conceived and completed his first novel entitled And the Ass saw the Angel published in 1989. The novel narrates the story of Euchrid Eucrow, a mute born to a drunken mother and a cruel father obsessed with traps and animal torture. The ultimate outcast, the protagonist bears his mother’s beatings, his father’s indifference, and the hatred and loathing of an entire town; as a consequence his mind is inhabited by terrible angelic visions and later raised to inevitable madness. The fruit of a difficult and in a sense inhuman period in the history of mankind, the novel displays Cave’s intelligence and “musical” inventiveness through the artist’s introduction of some stylistic features such as the translation of the narrator’s “I” in “Ah”; in this sense sound and rhythm become very important aspects of the novel. Significant crossover, moreover, can be perceived between the themes in the novel and the lyrics Cave wrote in the same period, the song “Swampland” from the album Mutiny, uses the same linguistic devices (“mah” for “my”, for instance) and some of the same subjects (the song’s narrator being haunted by the memory of a girl called Lucy, being hunted like an animal approaching death and executuion). In this sense the novel can stand as a point of access to the rich semiotic landscape associated with the Australian artist and to his complex artistic and literary critique of our times.

"Crossing Geographical, Musical and Literary Borders: Nick Cave’s 'And the Ass Saw the Angel'"

MARTINO, PIERPAOLO
2012

Abstract

Nick Cave is possibly the most successful and world-wide known Australian cultural icon. Born in Warrachnabeal, Victoria in 1957, Cave has always crossed and still crosses geographical and artistic borders, moving freely between different continents and art forms (and in particular between music and literature). Internationally praised as the singer/songwriter of the two most important Australian bands of the last decades – The Birthday Party and The Bad Seeds (established in 1984) – Cave is also an author, screenwriter, painter and actor who moved to London (where he currently lives) in the early Eighties and then to West Berlin, to later relocate in Brazil. In this sense Cave is the perfect embodiment of Salman Rushdie’s concept of “translated man”, that is someone who is translated across cultures (in Case’s case very often between European and Australian cultures). As Rushdie observes in his seminal essay Imaginary Homelands (1991) “it is normally supposed that something always gets lost in translation; I cling, obstinately that something can also be gained”, the outcome of this process of translation is indeed the double nature of the postcolonial artist who is both an insider and outsider, who can see and analyze European and Australian realities through a very rich and complex perspective; in Cave’s specific case this process of translation also implies the capacity of translating between different languages or arts. In Cave’s world different art forms speak to each other in a process of reciprocal hybridization. Cave’s songs have the complexity of literary texts and his novels and poems are very much musical. While living in West Berlin Cave conceived and completed his first novel entitled And the Ass saw the Angel published in 1989. The novel narrates the story of Euchrid Eucrow, a mute born to a drunken mother and a cruel father obsessed with traps and animal torture. The ultimate outcast, the protagonist bears his mother’s beatings, his father’s indifference, and the hatred and loathing of an entire town; as a consequence his mind is inhabited by terrible angelic visions and later raised to inevitable madness. The fruit of a difficult and in a sense inhuman period in the history of mankind, the novel displays Cave’s intelligence and “musical” inventiveness through the artist’s introduction of some stylistic features such as the translation of the narrator’s “I” in “Ah”; in this sense sound and rhythm become very important aspects of the novel. Significant crossover, moreover, can be perceived between the themes in the novel and the lyrics Cave wrote in the same period, the song “Swampland” from the album Mutiny, uses the same linguistic devices (“mah” for “my”, for instance) and some of the same subjects (the song’s narrator being haunted by the memory of a girl called Lucy, being hunted like an animal approaching death and executuion). In this sense the novel can stand as a point of access to the rich semiotic landscape associated with the Australian artist and to his complex artistic and literary critique of our times.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11586/9794
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