Can a novel be part of a gesamtkunstwerk?

'gesamtkunstwerk' roughly translates as a "total work of art" and describes an artwork, design, or creative process where different art forms are combined to create a single cohesive whole.

I am not sure how you can really do that with a novel, but I would be interested in hearing about examples where this was achieved, or ways in achieving it through a novel, because I don't think it is possible to use a novel as a primary medium towards achieving that.

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    I'm not sure how comprehensive you are looking for this to be. Because of the time/attention needed to go into reading, it would be challenging. Plenty of novels have been adapted as movies, and this integrates writing, visual arts and music into a cohesive whole. U2's Zooropa album was going to have the words from Neuromancer scrolled on a screen in performance, but ended up not. Perhaps if a movie showing happened in a setting/recreation of a scene, it would reach this level of integration, but I personally can't think of an actual example. Is that close to what you're looking for?
    – DWKraus
    Jul 1, 2021 at 14:45
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    Can you define gesamtkunstwerk in your question rather than just linking?
    – Kitkat
    Jul 1, 2021 at 18:43

1 Answer 1


You could do this in a few ways I think.

As part of a puzzle. Say, as an aspect of an "Escape Room" series. There was a video game called Amnesia where the character had to read different letter he sent himself from the past, all part of understanding what sort of place he was in.

As a treasure hunt. I think that a book like Davinci Code could be expanded into something like this. Combined with say, geocaching.

As part of a roleplaying society. Take any fairly popular book with a fantasy element and use it as a cultural basis for hangouts and meet ups. Doing makeup, talking in fantasy languages, doing ceremonies together.

I guess it really depends on whether you want interactive elements or visual elements, etc. There are a lot of media formats. It kind of depends on what you want to piece together and define as art.

As a summary to your question, I think if the novel had enough of a follower base and was released before further effort was made to create a larger piece of art it would be possible. I have not seen this done yet.

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