Opera, Sex and Other Vital Matters

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Opera, Sex, and Other Vital Matters gathers both classic and never-before-published essays from one of the leading stylists in contemporary American letters, and one of our more revered public intellectuals, Paul Robinson. Diverse and elegant, the essays in this new collection showcase the sly wit and lightly worn erudition of their author. Each celebrates art and the flesh, directing us to the twin ecstasies of music and eros.

The essays on opera gathered here explore how masterpieces like Fidelio and The Magic Flute reflect the intellectual currents of their day. Be it the work of Verdi or Mozart, Wagner or Strauss, Robinson compels us to search for meaning not just in the lyrics of opera but also in the music. In melody, not libretto, we are more likely to discern key historical complexities and appreciate the way opera transcends language and time. The essays on sexuality, meanwhile, are ruminative, funny, and even moving. At one moment, Robinson measures whether homosexuality is the result of destiny or free choice. In another, he shares a touching exchange of letters with a gay student in the process of coming out. The final essays that encompass "other vital matters" find Robinson at his most incisive. Whether defending Freud as the most influential thinker of the twentieth century, attacking the dreaded use of semicolons, reflecting on his own mortality, or even meditating on the nature of cats, Sex, Opera, and Other Vital Matters is an eclectic work that will appeal to any reader interested in the continuing relevance of ideas to life.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 332 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (June 8, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226721833
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226721835
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds

Customer Reviews

Intellectual history for music lovers

9 people found this helpful.
 on September 10, 2004
By sailing up chit speak
This is a brave book, in a way that reflects how any intellectual might be considered brave for basing his work on his passions, writing about the things he enjoys thinking about, and trying to combine bits and pieces of a lifetime in intellectual history in something that might still seem to be just small doses. My main interest was in topics that get hardly more than a page, like furtive mentions of Luce Irigaray in his consideration of Freud’s position in the landscape of feminism. The deeper into this I look, the more I am likely to find the kind of thing that Paul Robinson would say:

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