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Journal Article

Review: Elective Affinities and Their Philosophy: Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory by Lydia Goehr

Reviewed Work: Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory by Lydia Goehr
Review by: David Carrier
History and Theory
Vol. 49, No. 1 (Feb., 2010), pp. 139-146
Published by: Wiley for Wesleyan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25621458
Page Count: 8
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Elective Affinities and Their Philosophy
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Abstract

Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory collects a selection of Lydia Goehr's recent essays. In them she traces "a history of attraction and reaction... of music to philosophy, drama, birdsong, crime, film, and nationhood" (ix). Goehr examines the ways that philosophers, the ideas that they present, and works of art display "elective affinities." Her procedure is like that of an art historian who presents parallel slides to reveal visual affinities, even between artists who themselves were unaware of each other. Her analyses are erudite, lucid, and always suggestive, but what I found most admirable in Elective Affinities is Goehr's extraordinarily brave experimentation with a novel form of philosophy-writing, the adumbration of which is the focus of this review. Her book is strange enough to be genuinely magnificent and lastingly influential.

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