Title

“Rousseau’s Pygmalion and Automata in the Romantic Period,” in Rousseau, Switzerland, and Romanticism: New Prospects, eds. Angela Esterhammer, Patrick Vincent, and Diane Piccito (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 68-83.

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

5-5-2015

Journal / Book Title

Rousseau, Switzerland, and Romanticism: New Prospects

Abstract

This comparative essay argues for the necessity of reading Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s lyrical scene Pygmalion alongside the cultural phenomenon of musical automata such as those created in the workshops of Jacques de Vaucanson and Pierre Jaquet-Droz. Examining Rousseau’s Pygmalion in relation to automata sheds light on Swiss contributions to Romantic-era discourse about the power of emotion over imagination, creation, and procreation. Rousseau’s melodrama—one of the first in that genre—demonstrates the ways in which genuine affect allows the human artist to create new life. The impact of Pygmalion on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Goethe’s life and work, and eighteenth-century British, French, and German theater history further illustrates the ways in which Rousseau’s text anticipates Romantic-era fascination with artificial life.

Book Publisher

Palgrave Macmillan

Journal ISSN / Book ISBN

978-1137475855

Book Editor(s)

Angela Esterhammer, Patrick Vincent, and Diane Piccito

Published Citation

Wendy C. Nielsen, “Rousseau’s Pygmalion and Automata in the Romantic Period,” in Rousseau, Switzerland, and Romanticism: New Prospects, eds. Angela Esterhammer, Patrick Vincent, and Diane Piccito (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 68-83.

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