5 Books, 1 Similarity: The Random Violinist

 The Books:

viThe Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkin

 

The violin, has a scattered reputation. Some find it pretentious, others soulful. Regardless of personal opinion, the passionate and long lasting instrument has drawn much attention, even in literature. There have been several interesting and completely different characters in literature that have taken up the violin only to have it not be their defining characteristic, such as…

 

Sherlock Holmes The Complete Sherlock Holmes

It doesn’t take a master detective to figure out Holmes has a love of the violin. After solving cases, Holmes would play his violin or do some cocaine, probably the cocaine more often than the violin. Still, violinist is not the occupation people associate Holmes with (he’s a detective of some sort). Though the violin is a bit of an odd hobby, of all the objects that are associated with Sherlock Homes (the deerstalker hat, the pipe, and the violin) the violin stands as one that was a creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself, the rest developed over time.

vio

There is nothing more to be said or to be done to-night, so hand me over my violin and let us try to forget for half an hour the miserable weather and the still more miserable ways of our fellow men.

  •    – “The Five Orange Pips”

 

 

Kazuo Kiriyama Battle Royale

Battle Royale is a pre Hunger Games Japanese novel by Koushun Takami that details the story of junior high students who fight to the death because of the oppressive dictatorial Japanese government. Side note: That’s not a diss to Hunger Games, if ever given the time you should read both books. There are actually two people in Battle Royale, who play the violin, the resentful, snobby Toshinori Oda and the remorseless, indifferent Kazuo Kiriyama. I chose the more likeable Kazuo. Kazuo is a genius who can adapt to situations effortlessly including learning the violin, painting, and easily massacring his fellow classmates. You have to love a renaissance man.

*Spoiler alert*

One violinist kills another as the battle rages on.

 

 Furthermore–though it was quite irrelevant now–he had no idea his killer, Kazuo Kiriyama, had, in his mansion that was much larger than Toshinori’s home in Shiroiwa-cho, mastered the violin at a level far superior to Toshinori’s a long time ago–and then tossed his violin into the trash.

 

 

Grete Samsa Metamorphosis

Avioldmit it when you think of Kafka’s Metamorphosis you don’t think of violin playing – for those of you that do, kudos. Metamorphosis might be the story of a man who one day wakes up as a giant bug (been there), but it is also a story of good old fashion sibling relationships. Grete, the sister of the giant bug formerly known as Gregor Samsa, dutifully takes care of her brother after he experiences his change even forsaking her precious violin. However, when she does get a chance to enjoy a moment of violin glory, Gregor’s insect form upstages her violin playing. That’s when her love grows cold. Further proof that it’s not wise to kick your little sister out of the spotlight too many times.

 

The violin went silent, the middle of the three gentlemen first smiled at his two friends, shaking his head, and then looked back at Gregor. His father seemed to think it more important to calm the three gentlemen before driving Gregor out, even though they were not at all upset and seemed to think Gregor was more entertaining than the violin playing had been.

 

 

Tamoszius Kuszleika The Jungle

The book that collectively makes high school classes goes “ugh”, Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle describes some of the horrors of the meat packing industry. One such horror that has nothing to do with health code violations happens to expert violinist Tamoszius Kuszleika. Now even though Tamoszius gets paid to play violin and has the ability to make people cry from his skillful playing, his main job happens to be working on the killing floor of a local slaughterhouse (if that sounds horrifying now, imagine doing it in 1906). In order to make money for Marija, the girl he loves, Tamoszius works until eventually losing a finger to blood poisoning, which ends his violin career. One of just many sad endings that occurs in The Jungle.

 

There was no resisting the music of Tamoszius, however; even the children would sit awed and wondering, and the tears would run down Teta Elzbieta’s cheeks. A wonderful privilege it was to be thus admitted into the soul of a man of genius, to be allowed to share the ecstasies and the agonies of his inmost life.

 

 

Fíli and Kili The Hobbit

violin

The Hobbit features an amazing cast of musical beings from elves, hobbits, humans, to dwarfs. Four such dwarfs who possess some musical talent are Fíli, Kili, Balin, and Dwalin (the latter two play viols which are a little different than violins so they are not included in the list). While I find it comforting that dwarfs aren’t confined to wielding battleaxes, slicing men with broadswords, and smashing things with war hammers, I’m almost certain that the plot of The Hobbit has less to do with dwarf bands and more to do with fighting dragons and a Lonely Mountain. However, if we were to name the band that plays at the beginning of the Hobbit, I’d vote for Thorin Oakenshield Presents the Dwarfs.

 

‘Now for some music!’ said Thorin. ‘Bring out the instruments!’

Kili and Fili rushed for their bags and brought back little fiddles; Dori, Nori, and Ori brought out flutes from somewhere inside their coats;…”

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