“A Work of Art,” James Blish, 1956

A Work of Art,” James Blish, 1956 – (Alternate title: “Art-Work”)  Richard Strauss is resurrected in the far future by “mind sculptors” and tasked with composing opera for a modern audience, but he finds he has nothing left to say musically.  The audience of 2161 applauds his creation, unaware that Strauss considers it worthless.  At the conclusion, Strauss realizes that his music was never intended as a source of aesthetic pleasure–his mind was the work of art. The body he inhabits is that of a man without musical talent. Now that Strauss has performed for them, the sculpture–the Strauss persona–will be erased and the man will be restored.

Comments: Mentions Ezra Pound’s poem, Personae. Read in New Dreams This Morning.  See also Blish’s 1966 introduction to this anthology, which discusses sf coming into an awareness of its place as an art form (a bit chauvinistic, no women represented here – notably missing is mention of “No Woman Born”).  Also read in Science Fiction Showcase.

Author: Wikipedia: “James Benjamin Blish (May 23, 1921 – July 30, 1975) was an American author of fantasy and science fiction. Blish also wrote literary criticism of science fiction using the pen-name William Atheling, Jr.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in 1946-1959, aesthetics/beauty, artists/creativity, death/immortality, emotions/intimacy/empathy, favorites, music, time/history/causality. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to “A Work of Art,” James Blish, 1956

  1. Pingback: Is God is a Mathematician? Guest Post by Bob Kurland | William M. Briggs

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