Romanticism at the End of History by Jerome Christensen (review)
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on scapegoating. Her attempts to treat the aesthetic as an element ofthe economies ofdesire also seem at the forefront ofa new trend. But what begins as complexity too quickly is reduced to examining the interplay ofa limited set ofbinaries . This becomes most evident upon examination of the consequences of Mandell's psychoanalytic terms for her chiefbinary, seen through her quasi-economic model, which unlike abjection, is unable to make the jump from personal to social without becoming too reductionist. While sex and death are no doubt elemental drives that become expressed in broader cultural fashion, the farther removed from the individual, die more complex this expression will become: just as economists from John Kennerh Galbraith to Lester Thurow have shown that fundamental economic assumptions about individuals no longer necessarily apply in direct fashion to corporations. And this plays out at each pole ofher binary as well. For example, despite Mandell's attempts to useJohn Guillory to innoculate her argument against too easily identifying the canon with ideological hegemony, her transposition ofhegemony from text to readers (the fine line between them is die territory Mandell is constantly trying to tread) neverrheless amounts to too much the same thing, finally associating canonical texts — and their interpretations — with cultural capital reconceived as those single, hegemonic interpretations . One last index ofthis tendency lies in a comment about Letitia Barbauld in the final chapter, where Mandell says: "To elucidate Barbauld's ideas as an Enlightenment thinker is not necessarily to condone diem" (132). Most readers of Mandell's text wouldn't think that it was. The odd warning that critical attention might indicate blanket approval (Mandell goes on to praise Barbauld's misogynyresisting poetics) reveals aspects ofMandell's own economy ofdesire, which sometimes in spite ofitselfstill wants to separate things into two piles, with not much left in the middle. Jerome Christensen. Romanticism at the End ofHistory, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000. 236p. Kandi Tayebi Sam Houston State University Scholars ofRomanticism find diemselves facing a "climate ofanti-Romantic ideology " (177) that ranges from a critique of the ideas of Romanticism and the methods formerly used to analyze Romantic texts to a denial ofdie field of Romanticism altogether. Arguing that a definition ofRomanticism is almost impossible to agree on, scholars have begun to redefine their area as the long eighteenth century and to explore the assumptions inherent in criticism of Romantic texts. SPRING 2001 + ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVIEW * 101 Leading this charge are the New Historicists, such as Alan Liu and Marjorie Levinson, who have been profoundly affected by the publication ofJerome McGann's RomanticIdeology. At the same time, studies ofrediscovered texts written by women have complicated our view of Romanticism. Emerging from this dynamic restructuring of the field, Jerome Christensen's Romanticism at the End ofHistory provides a refreshingly new discussion ofRomanticism that focuses on the use of Romantic texts and Romantic ideas instead of on their critique. Structuring his argument around the dates 1798, 1802, and 1815, Jerome Christensen discusses how English Romantic male writers defined dieir relationship to the social events occurring at the turn of the century, which appeared to mark the end ofhistory. These dates, significant because diey represent times of war, truce, and peace, allow the audior to discuss the construction ofnew world pictures at times of transition and social crisis. Christensen argues that wartime produces writing that reports incidents in episodic structures that "implicates the noncombatant auditor or reader in its narrative unfolding" (5), such as Coleridge's "Fears in Solitude" and "Christabel" or Wordsworth's "Salisbury Plain" and "Ruined Cottage." Truce brings about the publication ofthe "Immortality Ode" and Coleridge's reporting ofthe seduction of the Maid of Buttermere, showing both the hope for a new future and the suspicion ofintrigue present during a time of suspended hostilities. Finally, peace timeallows Coleridge, Scott, Wordsworth, and Byron to "think the posthistorical" (7). In this way, Christensen connects the Romantics to us today, living at the end ofthe Cold War, in a time oftechnological innovation and fragmenting, dislocating change. Building on his earlierworkabout Byron, LordByron'sStrength: Romantic Writingand CommercialSociety, which explores the importance ofRomanticanachronism , Christensen atgues against critics likeJerome McGann who believe that the Romantics refuse to "recognize history...


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