Distinguished ethnomusicologist Philip V. Bohlman compiles Johann Gottfried Herder’s writings on music and nationalism, from his early volumes of Volkslieder through sacred song to the essays on aesthetics late in his life, shaping them as the book on music that Herder would have written had he gathered the many strands of his musical thought into a single publication. Framed by analytical chapters and extensive introductions to each translation, this book interprets Herder’s musings on music to think through several major questions: What meaning did religion and religious thought have for Herder? Why do the nation and nationalism acquire musical dimensions at the confluence of aesthetics and religious thought? How did his aesthetic and musical thought come to transform the way Herder understood music and nationalism and their presence in global history? Bohlman uses the mode of translation to explore Herder’s own interpretive practice as a translator of languages and cultures, providing today’s readers with an elegantly narrated and exceptionally curated collection of essays on music by two major intellectuals.
Without Johann Gottfried Herder (1744-1803), we simply would not understand Shakespeare in the way we do. In fact, much literature and art besides Shakespeare would neither look the same nor be the same without the influence of Herder's "Shakespeare" (1773). One of the most important and original works in the history of literary criticism, this passionate essay pioneered a new, historicist approach to cultural artifacts by arguing that they should be judged not by their conformity to a set of conventions imported from another time and place, but by the effectiveness of their response to their own historical and cultural context. Rejecting the authority of a dominant and stifling French neoclassicism that judged eighteenth-century plays by the criteria of Aristotle, Herder's "Shakespeare" signaled a break with the Enlightenment, the approach of Romanticism, and the arrival of a distinctly modern form of aesthetic appreciation.
With a vivid new translation and a fascinating introduction by Gregory Moore, this edition of Herder's classic will speak to today's readers with undiminished power and persuasiveness.
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