The Quest of the Absolute
Birth and Decline of European Romanticism
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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The ideas and artistic achievements of a culture reflect the mindâs lighton being at a particular epoch. That light waxes and wanes. Ideas emerge,dominate public discourse for a while, and then fade away, only to berediscovered later. They may be forgotten, but they have become an in-tegral part of a living tradition. They are transitory and yet permanent....
Chapter 1: What Was and What Is Romanticism?
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Because of the overwhelming variety of form and content in a multi-plicity of artistic, poetic, religious, and philosophical expressions, oftenconflicting with one another, some scholars have concluded that it isvain to search for a definition of Romanticism.1Nevertheless, despitetheir irreducible differences, all Romantics shared an awareness of liv-...
Part I: Typology of Romantic Literature
Chapter 2: English Romantic Poetry
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Romantic poetry possesses an ontological significance that is absent fromEnlightenment literature. The great odes by HÃ¶lderlin, Words worth,Shelley, and Keats, as well as Novalisâs Hymnen an die Nacht, some ofLamartineâs MÃ©ditations poÃ©tiques, and Hugoâs later, apocalyptic poetry,all contain insights about the mysteries of life and death that earlier...
Chapter 3: German Romantic Poetry
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Romanticism, before even having the name of a movement, and withlittle or no communication among the original groups, erupted in vari -be known as Sturm und Drang, after the title of Friedrich MaximilianKlingerâs tempestuous tragedy. Its participants agreed on only one goal:the liberation of German letters from the dominance of French literary...
Chapter 4: French Romantic Poetry
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French poetry of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shows a re-markable poverty of ideas, despite Descartesâ claim that more profoundideas appear in the writings of poets than in those of philosophers. Ideasin France were traditionally communicated in prose. Poetry, particularlyRomanticpoetry, did not serve to renew thought, as it had done for...
Part II: Systematic Discussionof Romantic Aesthetics, Psychology, and Ethics
Chapter 5: The Beautiful and the Sublime
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Alexander Baumgartenâs Aesthetics(1750) revived the study of art andbeauty, once a subject of vigorous debate, from a long philosophicalne glect. Critics, artists, and classicists, however, had given aesthetictheory a great deal of their attention. Diderot, in his Letter on the Deafand the Dumb, had shown how the theory of art as imitation of nature...
Chapter 6: The Romantic Image of the Person as Reflected in the Novel
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The concept of the person, central in Romantic thought, has had a longand complex history. Its earlier meanings are all derived from the Greekterm prosoÂ¯pon(literally, face or mask). During the late Roman epoch, aperson was deï¬ned more precisely as a subject of rights and duties. Theconcept gained additional dignity from the Christian teaching that all...
Chapter 7: Romantic Ethics
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No text influenced early Romantic thinkers and poets in Germany morethan Kantâs Critique ofPractical Reason. In that work the philosopherhad given a real content to the self, which had been missing in the Cri-tique of Pure Reason. In the first half of the Critique of Pure Reasontheself had appeared as no more than the âunity of apperception,â that is,...
Chapter 8: Political Theories after the French Revolution
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Political theories before the French Revolution were considered part ofsocial ethics. Their conclusions on the art of governing seldom restedon empirical observation. Some, such as Richard Hookerâs Of the Lawsof Ecclesiastical Polity(1592), Johannes Althusiusâs Politica(1610), andeven Thomas Hobbesâs Leviathan(1651), originated as conclusions of...
Part III: Syntheses of Romantic Thought
Chapter 9: The Romantic Idea of History
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Europe has always been âa civilization extremely attentive to its past,âwrote the French historian Marc Bloch. Their entire heritage has movedEuropeans in a historical direction: âOur first masters, the Greeks andthe Romans, were history-writing peoples. Christianity is a religionof historians.â1In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this West-...
Chapter 10: Philosophical Foundations of Romantic Thought
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If we claim that Romanticism formally began with the French Revo-lution, we must add that it was not the result of that political event.It consisted in a radical transformation of modern consciousness sup-ported by a systematic rethinking of its intellectual foundations. Mod-ern philosophy, from Descartes to Kant, had been largely epistemologi -...
Chapter 11: A New Religion?
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In this final chapter I return to a subject that had been at the heart of thepreceding analysis of the Romantic mind. Religion is a difficult topic,partly because the religious conditions of Europe in the early nineteenthcentury were unprecedentedly complex and varied from one region toanother. This much, however, appears clear: the secularization that had...
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At the end of this study of the spiritual sources of modern culture, begunwith my Passage to Modernity, continued with my The Enlightenmentand the Intellectual Foundations of Modern Culture, and completed withthe present volume on Romanticism, I must pose the question of mo -dernity again. Throughout these pages I have assumed that a real caesura...
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About the Author, Back Cover
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Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2013