Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue and Virtuosity (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)

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Music was central to everyday life and expression in late Georgian Britain, and this is the first interdisciplinary study of its impact on Romantic literature. Focusing on the public fascination with virtuoso performance, Gillen D'Arcy Wood documents a struggle between sober 'literary' virtue and luxurious, effeminate virtuosity that staged deep anxieties over class, cosmopolitanism, machine technology, and the professionalization of culture. A remarkable synthesis of cultural history and literary criticism, this book opens new perspectives on key Romantic authors - including Burney, Wordsworth, Austen and Byron - and their relationship to definitive debates in late Georgian culture.

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Music permeated Georgian life and culture, and this book argues for its crucial influence on Romantic literary production. Combining archival research with original readings, Wood finds in the long-running debate over virtuosity both the lure of aristocratic luxury and the threats of machine technology and the professionalization of Romantic culture.

About the Author:

Gillen D'Arcy Wood is Nicholson Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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9780521117333: Romanticism and Music Culture in Britain, 1770-1840: Virtue and Virtuosity (Cambridge Studies in Romanticism)

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