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Romanticism on the Net

Numéro 34-35, mai 2004

Opera and Nineteenth-Century Literature

Sous la direction de Nicholas Halmi

Direction : Michael Eberle-Sinatra (directeur)

Éditeur : Université de Montréal

ISSN : 1467-1255 (numérique)

DOI : 10.7202/009438ar

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Article

Occult Charm and Social Ills: Vernon Lee’s “A Wicked Voice” and George Du Maurier’s Castrated Texts

Grace Kehler

McMaster University

Abstract

This article explores the late Victorian fascination with the defunct voice of the operatic castrato as manifest in two texts by Vernon Lee — Studies of the Eighteenth Century in Italy and “A Wicked Voice” — and in George Du Maurier’s Trilby. Each text imagines a revenant castrato, using the life and body of the violated singer as a source of enchantment and endless aesthetic speculation. Though these texts implicitly acknowledge their exploitive nature, they lack the self-mastery to resist the pleasure of making the surgically altered and socially wanting castrato serve perfection fantasies. Still, the representations of the revenant castrato bear with them a social and moral history that interrupts the pleasure of speculation and highlights the brutality of what art lovers have nominated as an ideal.

Auteur : Grace Kehler
Titre : Occult Charm and Social Ills: Vernon Lee’s “A Wicked Voice” and George Du Maurier’s Castrated Texts
Revue : Romanticism on the Net, Numéro 34-35, mai 2004
URI : http://id.erudit.org/iderudit/009438ar
DOI : 10.7202/009438ar

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