Choir of Muses
Choir of Muses
Choir of Muses manifests Etienne Gilson’s intimate familiarity with aesthetic theory and the creative process. In a manner simultaneously thought-provoking and often charming, Gilson describes the relationships between artists and the source of their work’s inspiration: the women they love. From Wagner and Mathilde to Petrarch and Laura (and touching frequently upon Dante and Beatrice) Gilson examines the effects of these authors’ affairs on their writing, the concept of what constitutes a Muse, and the place of artists’ lovers as both passive and active forces of influence. Throughout the book, Gilson presents the figure of a Muse as an envisioned ideal, inseparable from the woman herself yet only identical to her in the eyes of the artist.
“The Muse is the poet’s shaping of the woman into the being of his dreams, ideal and yet also real, desirable and inaccessible like the perfect beauty he seeks to create.” –Etienne Gilson
Etienne Gilson (1884–1978) was a French philosopher and historian of philosophy. Along with Jacques Maritain, he led the twentieth-century revival of Thomist thought. Over the course of a prolific career, Gilson was professor at the University of Lille, the University of Strasbourg, the University of Paris; lectured at Harvard University, University of Montreal, and University of Virginia; inaugurated the chair in history of medieval philosophy at the Collège de France; and instituted the Pontifical Institute of Medieval Studies with St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto. Gilson is the author of more than nine hundred works, including Being and Some Philosophers, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, and Painting and Reality.