Flirts, Victims, Connivers

Jerry Fodor

  • Enchantment: The Seductress in Opera by Jean Starobinski, translated by C. Jon Delogu
    Columbia, 262 pp, £17.50, March 2008, ISBN 978 0 231 14090 4

I’ve been told you can’t judge a book by its cover; and not by its subtitle either, it would seem. Jean Starobinski’s Enchantment presents itself as concerned with ‘the seductress in opera’, but not much of it actually is. It consists, rather, of a collection of occasional pieces, most of which have previously been published. They offer relatively impressionistic accounts of one or another opera. Starobinski has a good ear for wordplay and his essays are very strong on literary, historical and anecdotal background. Much of it opera addicts will find fascinating, some of it they will find illuminating, and all of it is impressively erudite. But there’s nothing much holding the book together except its covers.

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