Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Need for Words

I was just having a conversation with someone about Hatikvah, which reminds me of one of the funniest things ever. Unfortunately, you need to be a DWJ fan to find it funny, so I'm just going to have to write about it here.

So, DWJ has this book, The Magicians of Caprona, featuring a tune to which no one knows the correct lyrics. Eventually, it transpires that it's vitally important to find the correct lyrics - this is the key to saving the entire city of Caprona. The whole plot of the book is thus directed around the search for the lyrics to this tune.

I don't think it ever occurred to me that DWJ might have a particular tune in mind, but, in this interview with Judith Ridge, she mentions that, in fact, she was thinking of Smetana's Vltava from Ma Vlast. In fact, the inspiration for the book was her feeling that the tune of Vltava needed words and didn't have them.

But, as it happens, Smetana didn't actually make up the tune himself; he got it from a very old folk tune that also happens to be the source for the melody of Hatikvah. I guess this tune has had lyrics set to it before, but, right now, the most obvious counter-example to DWJ's anxiety about the lack of lyrics to the tune is the Hatikvah. Which means that really, all throughout The Magicians of Caprona, the characters were really looking for the Israeli national anthem to save their city. It also sort of half-implies that the city-state of Caprona, for which the song is a kind of anthem, is in fact Israel.

No comments: