Sunday, March 04, 2007
Watching the movie of Suskind's 'Perfume', I was struck by the challenge of representing one mode in another. The novel is a masterpiece in evoking the olefactory in words, whereas the movie has to make do with bombarding the view with images, and it doesn't work so well. That brought to mind the ways in which writers convey the other senses - sound in general, and music in particular. My personal favourites are the string quartet in Proust, Vikram Seth's descriptions in 'An Equal Music' and Toni Morrison's 'Jazz'. But the best of all is at the end of James Baldwin's short story 'Sonny's Blues' - a brilliant example of how skilfull writing can capture the emotional resonances of music.