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 Héloïse, 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 naïve, 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.
A splendidly pithy and provocative introduction to the culture of Romanticism. The Sunday Times
Tim Blanning is] in a particularly good position to speak of the arrival of Romanticism on the Euorpean scene, and he does so with a verve, a breadth, and an authority that exceed every expectation. National Review
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. A rebellion against the rationality of the Enlightenment, 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. Tim Blanning describes its beginnings in Rousseau s novel La Nouvelle Heloise, which placed the artistic creator at the center of aesthetic activity, and reveals how Goethe, Goya, Berlioz, and others began experimenting with themes of artistic madness, the role of sex as a psychological force, and the use of dreamlike imagery. Whether unearthing the origins of sex appeal or the celebration of accessible storytelling, The Romantic Revolution is a bold and brilliant introduction to an essential time whose influence would far outlast its age.
Anyone with an interest in cultural history will revel in the book s range and insights. Specialists will savor the anecdotes, casual readers will enjoy the introduction to rich and exciting material. Brilliant artistic output during a time of transformative upheaval never gets old, and this book shows us why. The Washington Times
It s a pleasure to read a relatively concise piece of scholarship of so high a caliber, especially expressed as well as in this fine book. Library Journal"
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.