Fair Ophelia: A Life of Harriet Smithson Berlioz

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Cambridge University Press, Dec 11, 2003 - Music - 232 pages
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This book presents a complete account of the remarkable life and career of Harriet Smithson Berlioz. Peter Raby's success in this book is to bring fully and sympathetically to life the vulnerable woman and the working actress who is so generally submerged beneath the myth that was created about her. At the same time he provides a continually fascinating commentary on the theatrical and cultural history of her time: on touring troupes in Ireland; on the late Georgian theatre in London; on the different acting styles and traditions in England and France; on the economics of the theatre and the composition of the audiences; on the intellectual background to Shakespeare's belated acceptance in France; on French translations of Shakespeare and contemporary French critical essays and reviews; on the leading figures who frame Harriet's story - actors, painters, writers, and musicians (most notably, of course, Berlioz himself). Holding all together is the complex figure of Harriet - a talented actress, and who for a brief but crucial period in French cultural history became a symbol and an ideal of the new, Romantic spirit.
 

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Contents

Childhood in Ireland
1
Years of apprenticeship
13
The walking lady
32
Shakespeare in France
43
Fair Ophelia
57
La Belle Irlandaise
79
The idée fixe
106
Episodes in the life of an artist
127
Berliozs muse
146
The tragic dénouement
162
Romantic image
176
Notes
194
Bibliography
204
Newspapers and periodicals
209
Index
210
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Peter Raby is the author of a study of Oscar Wilde and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Oscar Wilde and The Cambridge Companion to Harold Pinter. Among his other books are biographies of Harriet Smithson Berlioz, Samuel Butler and Alfred Russel Wallace. He is a Fellow Emeritus of Homerton College, Cambridge.

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