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Music was central to everyday life and expression in late Georgian Britain, and this interdisciplinary study looks at its impact on Romantic literature. Focusing on the public fascination with virtuoso performance, Gillen D'Arcy Wood documents a struggle between sober 'literary' virtue and luxurious, effeminate virtuosity that staged deep anxieties over class, cosmopolitanism, machine technology, and the professionalization of culture. A remarkable synthesis of cultural history and literary criticism, this book opens new perspectives on key Romantic authors - including Burney, Wordsworth, Austen and Byron - and their relationship to definitive debates in late Georgian culture.
Gillen D'Arcy Wood is Nicholson Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.