By Delia da Sousa Correa
George Eliot used to be captivated with song and her writing is steeped in musical allusion. This e-book explores musical reference in her paintings and investigates contexts reminiscent of Eliot's friendship with Wagner, the legacy of Romanticism, music's function in medical idea, and the ambivalent prestige of woman musicality. The ebook establishes how intensely Eliot's musical allusions are expert by way of her modern tradition and gives a clean view of the experimental writing by which she took literary realism into formerly uncharted areas.
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Extra info for George Eliot, Music and Victorian Culture
In the decades following the publication of ‘The Origin and Function of Music’, scientific commentators debated the relative merits of Spencer’s and Darwin’s views on music’s origins and affective power. Notable amongst them were two friends of Eliot’s, the psychologist James Sully and Edmund Gurney, who incorporated the results of their study of Spencer, Darwin and Helmholtz into their work on musical expression. Sully’s work on aesthetics was undertaken within the framework of evolutionary theory.
Debate following ‘The Origin and Function of Music’ took place specifically within the context of evolutionary theory. 128 The only explanation Darwin has to offer for music’s otherwise baffling affective power is that music is the survival of a once important and still powerful mode of expression. Darwin was not the only scientist to be puzzled by the purpose of musical sensitivity. 130 Darwin discusses the importance of music in the context of its significance in the courtship rituals of animals in general and alludes to Spencer’s views on music’s origin and function.
Possessed not of a heaven-sent gift but of the ‘extremely acute sensibilities’ contingent on a more responsive and highly developed nervous system, the musician’s more advanced grasp of the language of emotion could help explain the complex nature of musical expression: because of the general susceptibility which distinguishes him, [the musician] regards with emotion, events, scenes, conduct, character, which produce on most men no appreciable effect. com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromso - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-24 perception to be experienced as mysterious even when their nature was open to scientific explanation.