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By Frank Conroy

As a boy, Claude Rawlings appears up during the grated window of his basement condominium to monitor the area pass by way of. negative, lonely, supported by means of a taxi-driver mom whose eccentricities spin increasingly more uncontrolled, he faces the bad job of transforming into up at the margins of lifestyles, destined to be a spectator of that fab global consistently hurrying out of succeed in. yet there's an out-of-tune piano within the small house, and in unlocking the secrets and techniques of its keys, as though by way of magic, Claude discovers himself. he's a musical prodigy. physique & Soul is the tale of a tender guy whose lifestyles is remodeled through a present. The present isn't with out cost — the paintings is relentless, the lecturers exacting — however the gift is a trip that takes him to the drawing rooms of the wealthy and strong, deepest faculties, a gilt-edged marriage, and Carnegie corridor. Claude strikes via this existence as though he have been taking part in a tough composition, swept up in its drama and rigidity, shocked through its grace notes. track, right here, turns into a personality in its personal correct, equaled in energy purely by way of the song of Frank Conroy's personal unmistakable and real voice.

Bristling with personality and invention, physique & Soul is Dickensian in its variety and richness. this can be a novel with all of the emotional allure and ethical gravity of a vintage bildungsroman, yet with a tone as modern as a jazz riff—an unforgettable success by means of one of many nice writers of our time.

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Mattei, ‘Elogio del Jommelli o sia Il progresso della poesia e musica teatrale’ (1785); cited in Di Benedetto, ‘Poetics and Polemics’, 37. Johann Caspar Lavater’s Physiognomische Fragmente (1775–8) was popular in Britain; see Graham, ‘Lavater’s Physiognomy in England’; Donald, The Age of Caricature, 171–4. See Porter, Mind-Forg’d Manacles, for discussion of the way in which evolving medical and scientific thought accommodated itself to older concepts like the ‘humours’. Johann Georg Sulzer wrote: ‘It is important that the artist know himself, and whenever possible decline undertaking anything contrary to his character’; he illustrated his point with the contrasting examples of the ‘gentle’ Graun and the ‘bold’ Hasse; see Allgemeine Theorie der scho¨nen Ku¨nste, 51.

See Asleson, ‘She was Tragedy Personified’, 52–3; also West, ‘The Public and Private Roles of Sarah Siddons’. On problems of image for women in the public eye (writers and actresses), see Pearson, The Prostituted Muse, 6–14, 26–7, passim. Sheridan, Letters, iii, 295–7. ’ (iii, 301). 53 Diderot’s 1773 analysis of the ‘paradox’ of the actor, penned in response to Garrick’s apparently revolutionary contribution to the stage, implicitly underscores the actor’s professionalisation: ‘they say an actor is all the better for being excited, for being angry.

While such an approach may assert the value of opera seria in modern terms, it fails to do justice to the historical distance and (troubling) difference of the genre – distinctions which, as so many have demonstrated for music and the arts of other centuries, may themselves hold some value for us. 32 There is a long history of attempts at such segregation in the spoken theatre: already in the early nineteenth century, literary scholars such as Coleridge and Charles Lamb were set on separating Shakespeare from the sullying presence of the stage.

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