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A Life's Music

Categories: Music

Taking a deeper look at a passage, pages 5-6, out of Andreï Makine’s book A Life’s Music, you get a real sense of his style and the appropriateness of its title. Makine shows his skills as a writer in this book, you read so much music in the book and when read out loud it is literally music to your ears. The book almost flows as you read it and so makes it a joy to read. He uses a lot of literary devices to give you this sense of music and flow; onomatopoeia, metaphor, smiles and adjectives.

In this passage, pages 5-6, Makine uses a vast amount of onomatopoeic words such as; ‘crunch’, ‘crackles’, ‘hisses’, ‘wail’, ‘whimperings’. He has them in the whole passage, as well as the book. Because of this Makine gives the book a sense of music, by this I mean that the book not only has onomatopoeic words and also reads like music, when read out loud, but also feels like music when read.

Makine is so clever, he manages to make the book into music and thanks to this, you are completely and utterly engrosses into the book, once you have started reading it, you’ll not stop.

Another show of his cleverness is his opening line of the book “I have just woken up, having dreamed of music.” (P.5 L.1) Makine introduces us to the first chapter of his book with stating that he (unnamed character) has dreamed of music and from then on in the book is filled and consists of music.

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It is a very clever way of starting the book, the first line of the book and we are lead in with music and what a strange sentence, dreaming of music, one does not usually dream of music. Within the first two sentences you can depict the style of the book, music.

The music in this passage is not very a happy one, in fact it is rather depressing and rough; “Snore call out to one another(.)”, “The wail of an infant(.)”, “An ocean swell of sighs(.)” and “The wind wips(.)”. All of these quotations give you an image of a rather miserable place, not somewhere you would want to be. Makine uses these quotations really well; they give you a great feel for the place and of the atmosphere at the train station. The music in the passage is really well used to describe the feelings of the people at the station “The wail of an infant rings out very clearly in the darkness, fades into little whimperings as it suck, falls silent.” (P5-6 L.21-23) The music is used to show the extent of the infant’s unhappiness and its progressions as the emotion subsides.

You get a feel of the infant’s urgency for the object that it seeks and once received the infant calms and so does the loudness of the music. Furthermore he uses music to show us the people’s responses to things “An ocean swell of sighs ripples through the waiting-room. But the truth is that no one expects anything more.” (P.6 L.28-30) The waiting people get told their train is delayed and as you would expect they sigh the point is, they sigh in such a way that it sounds just like an the ocean. Here Makine does not solely use and an onomatopoeic word, but also a metaphor ‘an ocean swell of sighs’. This gives you an image of the people sighing just like they would do a Mexican wave and it gives the sound of the sigh such a magnitude. Furthermore this quotation is a great example in the passage of how the book flows from one sentence to the next.

Along with Makine’s great use of music, he uses a lot of adjectives and they go hand in hand with his music. His adjectives give this passage a tone of violence and it constantly affects the atmosphere ‘hurls’, ‘shout’, ‘beat’, ‘grudgingly’ and ‘hardness’. With the soldiers the adjectives are used to give this sense of potential violence “(A) muffled shout of laughter, then a crunch of a fragment of glass under a foot, an oath. Two soldiers (…) beat a path through the mass of huddled bodies.” (P.5 L.16-20)

These soldiers give off this feel of violence, it seems if provoked they would fight and they seem to want to fight, they ‘beat a path’ through a mass of people, they are provoking the people to stand up say something about their behaviour. Furthermore at the end of the passage Makine uses simile to further enhance his tone of violence; “(I)t looks like a battlefield strewn with dead…” (P.6 L.45) This simile really ties a bow on the tone, at this point there is no longer the possibility for there to be doubt over the tone. You are given such an image of violence this mass of people at the train station are laying down on this hard floor and they are so unmoving and massed together they just look like a mass of corpses. It is quite a horrifying image.

In conclusion Andreï Makine’s style is very clearly music, the sound and the flow of it, and he uses onomatopoeia to translate it into the book and does so very successfully. He uses metaphors to emphasize the music in the book and the metaphors also help to give the music an increased magnitude. In combination with these literary devices Makine also uses similes and a through use of adjectives to make the music in the book stand out and to help the book flow from one sentence to the next. I personally really loved this book, it has stuck out as book among the books I have thus far read and I think it will continue to do so. Andreï Makine is a wonderful and skilled writer, the fact that he gave this book its title A Life’s Music is no wonder at all, it breathes music.

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A Life's Music. (2016, Dec 10). Retrieved from

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