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Animation, Plasticity, and Music in Italy, 1770-1830$
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Ellen Lockhart

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284432

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284432.001.0001

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Defining Italy in Haunted Rome

Defining Italy in Haunted Rome

(p.85) Chapter 3 Defining Italy in Haunted Rome
Animation, Plasticity, and Music in Italy, 1770-1830

Ellen Lockhart

University of California Press

Chapter 3 considers two novels—Alessandro Verri’s Le notti romane (1804) and de Staël’s Corinne, ou l’Italie (1807)—that were concerned with defining Italy politically. These novels can be seen to develop a new and distinct model of the “Italian,” building on the older principle of the spirit of languages, metastasizing this principle from mouths into bodies, and diffusing it onto the Italian landscape. Both novelists construct a single archetype to represent the nation itself: the orator who looks like an animated statue and speaks with a melodious voice about the history and fate of Italy. This chapter argues that the notion of plasticity developed by these novels prefigured Hegel’s in his Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) and in the lectures on aesthetics. Then it notes that the musical speech described in Le notti romane and Corinne was the subject of a first ethnomusicological study of “native” Italian song.

Keywords:   improvisation, Italy, Rome, Romantic novel, voice, temporality, historiography, Alessandro Verri, Hegel, Stael, plasticity

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