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Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850
     

Romanticism and Improvisation, 1750-1850

by Angela Esterhammer
 

During the Romantic era, especially in Italy, performers known as improvvisatori and improvvisatrici extemporised poetry in public in response to subjects requested by their audiences. This type of performance fascinated Grand Tourists from northern Europe, who reported on poetic improvisers in hundreds of travel accounts, journals, letters, and periodical articles

Overview

During the Romantic era, especially in Italy, performers known as improvvisatori and improvvisatrici extemporised poetry in public in response to subjects requested by their audiences. This type of performance fascinated Grand Tourists from northern Europe, who reported on poetic improvisers in hundreds of travel accounts, journals, letters, and periodical articles. By uncovering historical data and interpreting literary texts, Professor Esterhammer identifies patterns in the evolving responses of English, German, French, and Russian writers to the experience of improvisation. She explores how improvisation interacts with Romantic ideas about genius, spontaneity, orality, and emotional expressiveness, and relates to evolving concepts of gender and nation. Esterhammer goes on to interpret the influence that the figure of the poetic improviser had in nineteenth-century English and European fiction. In this context, the improvvisatore casts new light on conflicts between poetic genius and socio-economic constraints, and on the evolution of the Bildungsroman.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Angela Esterhammer's book takes us into a world that is entirely lost, and yet continues to resonate. Indeed, the theatricality of poetic improvisation resonates perhaps more today than through all the years, including the Romantic years, during which oral poetry, and especially improvised poetry, was frequently dismissed as an incompetent adjunct to its infinitely more cultured and complex written cousin."
- Michael Caesar, Book Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521897099
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
01/19/2009
Series:
Cambridge Studies in Romanticism Series , #77
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 8.98(h) x 0.87(d)

Meet the Author

Angela Esterhammer is Professor in the Department of English, University of Zurich and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Western Ontario. Previous books include Romantic Poetry. The Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages (edited, 2002) and The Romantic Performative: Language and Action in British and German Romanticism (2000).

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