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Reviews133 science and literature "There exists ... a surprising unanimity about the nature of time and historical change." He believes there is much potential in this perception for "future comparatist studies in literature and science" (p. 36). In short, certain current theories about science and its progress have dimensions which correlate with, or are parallel with, views about literature and its growth and development. And I suspect diat not only is this well worth exploring further , but diat these joint explorations may tell us more about the way we think and develop than either can alone. As a work which is avowedly supposed to look at science and literature in an interdisciplinary way, I do not believe that the volume succeeds very well. Having said that, however, let me alter the evaluation somewhat. For an academic whose predilections lean toward the scientific in its philosophical and historical dimensions, this is not a satisfying book. As a work on science as its concepts are utilized by creators ofliterature, however, the work has more value. I am not clear on where the science, per se, is; and if the work is to be considered an exercise in interdisciplinary scholarship and discourse, then I would, regretfully , advise the reader to "pass it up." The volume is an example of a phenomenon unfortunately all too common: the interdisciplinary study which is disciplinary but not "inter." Whitman CollegeJosephJ. Maier The Taming ofRomanticism: European Literature and the Age of Biedermeier, by Virgil Nemoianu; ix & 302 pp. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1984, $25.00. Literary historians tend to set romanticism in opposition to some other broad period-concept (Romanticism vs. Classicism, Enlightenment, Realism, Modernism , etc.). In this erudite and comprehensive study, Virgil Nemoianu finds the "foremost dichotomy" to lie within the concept of romanticism itself— namely, in "the opposition between the great fantasies and visions of the revolutionary age (high romanticism) and the more perplexed and disappointed musings , sentimentalities, aspirations, and ironies of the post-Napoleonic era" (p. 1). By shifting the focus of romantic studies from the brief heyday in the wake of the French Revolution (1790-1815) to the post-Napoleonic years (1815-1848) — known in Germany as the Biedermeierzeit, when earlier idealist programs of individual self-expression were reduced to more socially-oriented practices — Nemoianu proposes a "paradigm" for late romanticism that complements the models of (high) romanticism offered by René Wellek, M. H. Abrams, and others. Following Friedrich Sengle's three-volume Biedermeierzeit (1971-80), Nemoianu presents an expansive view of the period on a Europeanwide scale, dealing with English, French, and Eastern European, as well as Ger- 134Philosophy and Literature man, literatures. In place of the early romantics' totalizing quest for the absolute , the later romantics sought a more modest goal of social equilibrium. If the first phase of romanticism secularized the sacred, the later romantics tried to socialize (historicize, relativize) die egotistical sublime. According to Nemoianu, late-romantic literature does not simply record a loss of vigor, or a retreat from the romantic sublime back to the eighteenthcentury picturesque. It also represents an attempt to resolve high romanticism's rampant contradictions and to discover to what extent the movement's otherworldly (utopian, paradisial, millenarian) wishes and demands may actually be realized in the world as a "societal idyll." Characterized by pragmatic and empiricist values, the Büdermeierzeit is seen as a neo-Enlightenment or proto-realist period marking the decisive transition in western culture from idealism (high romanticism being its last gasp) to a demystified relativism, which is our own intellectual inheritance. Where Hulme, Eliot, and Babbitt diagnosed romanticism as a sickness of excessive sentimentalism, Nemoianu's critique is more purposefully directed against romanticism's postulating poetry as a supreme fiction that ultimately supersedes everyday reality — a charge that could be levelled against a number of "anti-romantic" modernists. Having tamed — or shamed — romanticism's totalizing tendencies (symbolized politically by the transition from romantic types like Robespierre and Napoleon to the arch-mediator Metternich), Biedermeier writers sought to establish an harmonious, neutral zone, and "to keep die idyllic system free of disruptive outside influences" (p. 194). In his final chapter which traces the development of the historical novel from Scott to Manzoni to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 133-135
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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