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Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-century Thought


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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. English Origins of English Oratario: 1. Artistic norms; 2. The purpose of art; 3. Music, morals and religion; 4. The biblical sublime; 5. The survival of the epic; 6. The defence of Christianity; 7. Towards oratorio; Part II. The Patriot Libretto from the Excise Bill to the Jew Bill: Israelite Oratarios and English Politics: 8. Political events and political thought; 9. Allegorical politics; 10. Moral politics; 11. Esther to Athalia; 12. In time of war; 13. Images of government; 14. The conflict of public and private interests; 15. Coda: the end of Handel's Israelite oratorios; Appendices; Notes; Index.

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Ruth Smith sheds new light on Handel's oratorio librettists and explores literature, music, aesthetics, politics and religion to reveal his texts as conduits for eighteenth-century thought.


'Ruth Smith's stimulating and instructive study of Handel's Oratorios and Eighteenth-Century Thought offers a sweeping recontextualization of the repertory for which Handel is best known ... demonstrates the potential rewards of a truly crossdisciplinary study of Handel's oeuvre that takes into account the immensely dynamic world in which he lived. We can hope future studies will, like this one, draw on aesthetics, history, literature, politics, religion, and of course music to explore the full contexts and meanings of Handel's works.' Eighteenth-Century Studies Winner of the 1996 Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, awarded by the British Academy. '... a wealth of potential meaning is uncovered here which will enrich the work of future scholars.' Early Music Review 'This is a book which, like the oratorios themselves, will both delight and instruct, bringing a new and fuller understanding of what those extraordinary works meant to their first audiences.' Kenneth Nott Musical Times 'If ever there was a body of work which needed a fresh look, surely this is it, and this is what Ruth Smith offers in her lively and challenging book.' Musical Times '... highly interesting and suggestive book.' British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies

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