Happening upon the title Animation, Plasticity, and Music in Italy, 1770–1830, one might suppose that the book places music in a rather esoteric conceptual configuration that held cultural relevance only for the delimited place and time. Do not be so fooled. In this work of sensitive and imaginative scholarship, Ellen Lockhart demonstrates a previously unrecognized centrality of the animated statue—the stone human figure that comes to life—to the development of Western aesthetic thought and operatic practice. Deftly traversing a wide range of sources, Lockhart shows how the animated statue ties together a rich late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century world of musical theater, aesthetic theory, nationhood fantasies, sciences of the body,...

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