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The Romantic Revolution: A Historyby Tim Blanning
Synopses & Reviews
From the preeminent historian of Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries comes a superb, concise account of a cultural upheaval that still shapes sensibilities today. Long overshadowed by the contemporaneous American, French, and Industrial revolutions, the Romantic Revolution finally receives its due in Tim Blanning’s bold and brilliant work.
A rebellion against the rationality of the Enlightenment, a rejection of “the Academy” in favor of public opinion, Romanticism was a profound shift in expression that altered the arts and ushered in modernity, even as it championed a return to the intuitive and the primitive. Blanning describes its beginnings in Rousseau’s novel La Nouvelle Hélose, the biggest bestseller of the eighteenth century, a work that placed the creator—and not the created—at the center of aesthetic activity and led to the virtual worship of creative geniuses by the general public.
Blanning reveals the glamorizing of artistic madness and suicide in Goethe’s novel The Sufferings of Young Werther and the ballet Giselle; the role of sex as a psychological force in Friedrich Schlegel’s novel Lucinde; the importance of mind-altering drugs to the fictional protagonist of Confessions of an English Opium Eater and to the composer Hector Berlioz in his Symphonie fantastique; and the use of nave, dreamlike imagery in Goya’s paintings of monsters, devils, and witches.
Whether it was the new notion of “sex appeal” in the fames of Paganini, Liszt, and Byron, or the celebration of accessible storytelling in the novels of Walter Scott (the most popular writer of the day), The Romantic Revolution unearths the origins of ideas now commonplace in our culture. It is the best introduction to an essential time whose influence would far outlast the mechanistic “age of the railway” that, in the mid-nineteenth century, replaced it.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Until his retirement in 2009, Tim Blanning was Professor of Modern European History at the University of Cambridge and remains a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College and of the British Academy. He is general editor of The Oxford History of Modern Europe and the Short Oxford History of Europe series and the author of The Culture of Power and the Power of Culture, which won a prestigious German prize and was short-listed for the British Academy Book Prize, The Pursuit of Glory, and The Triumph of Music. In 2000 he was awarded a Pilkington Prize for teaching by the University of Cambridge.
From the Hardcover edition.
Table of Contents
The crisis of the Age of Reason. Rousseau on the road to Vincennes ; Rousseau's lovers : from a mimetic to an expressive aesthetic ; Nature and nature's laws ; The cult of genius ; The elevation of the artist and the sacralization of art ; The Philistine public — The dark side of the moon. Dreams and nightmares ; The wonder-world of the night ; The sleep of reason ; The opiate of the artists; Great wits are sure to madness near allied ; Romantic heroes and heroines — Language, history, and myth. The language of the people ; The history of the people ; Medievalism ; Landscape and myth ; Conservatives and revolutionaries — Death and transfiguration.
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