The Nightingale of Austerlitz

Lindsay Marianna Walker

Abstract

The Nightingale of Austerlitz employs poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to articulate the theme of (mis)communication. A pliable, multi-genre approach was necessary to convey the urgency of two central characters' desire to connect despite the impossibility of doing so. Prose interrupts and challenges the set precision of poetry in order to embody the stops and starts--the literal and figurative breakdowns--of communication. The juxtaposition of genres dramatizes dialogue, silence, affective distance, and desire. Song, sound, repetition (using lullaby, referencing music, thematizing the ear) further assert the power of language as performance and aesthetics as consolation, and provoke a particular kind of attention to communication--how we speak and hear, who listens, and how silence signifies. The collection is accompanied by a critical preface.