The Quest of the Absolute
Birth and Decline of European Romanticism
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Notre Dame Press
Download PDF (13.2 KB)
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (40.1 KB)
Download PDF (28.5 KB)
Download PDF (41.1 KB)
The ideas and artistic achievements of a culture reflect the mind’s 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?
Download PDF (105.2 KB)
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
Download PDF (181.7 KB)
Romantic poetry possesses an ontological significance that is absent fromEnlightenment literature. The great odes by Hölderlin, Words worth,Shelley, and Keats, as well as Novalis’s Hymnen an die Nacht, some ofLamartine’s Méditations poétiques, and Hugo’s later, apocalyptic poetry,all contain insights about the mysteries of life and death that earlier...
Chapter 3: German Romantic Poetry
Download PDF (148.1 KB)
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 MaximilianKlinger’s 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
Download PDF (105.1 KB)
French poetry of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries shows a re-markable poverty of ideas, despite Descartes’ 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
Download PDF (156.0 KB)
Alexander Baumgarten’s 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
Download PDF (218.2 KB)
The concept of the person, central in Romantic thought, has had a longand complex history. Its earlier meanings are all derived from the Greekterm proso¯pon(literally, face or mask). During the late Roman epoch, aperson was deﬁned more precisely as a subject of rights and duties. Theconcept gained additional dignity from the Christian teaching that all...
Chapter 7: Romantic Ethics
Download PDF (150.2 KB)
No text influenced early Romantic thinkers and poets in Germany morethan Kant’s 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 “unity of apperception,” that is,...
Chapter 8: Political Theories after the French Revolution
Download PDF (126.1 KB)
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 Hooker’s Of the Lawsof Ecclesiastical Polity(1592), Johannes Althusius’s Politica(1610), andeven Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan(1651), originated as conclusions of...
Part III: Syntheses of Romantic Thought
Chapter 9: The Romantic Idea of History
Download PDF (142.6 KB)
Europe has always been “a civilization extremely attentive to its past,”wrote the French historian Marc Bloch. Their entire heritage has movedEuropeans in a historical direction: “Our first masters, the Greeks andthe Romans, were history-writing peoples. Christianity is a religionof historians.”1In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, this West-...
Chapter 10: Philosophical Foundations of Romantic Thought
Download PDF (175.2 KB)
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?
Download PDF (145.8 KB)
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...
Download PDF (35.0 KB)
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...
Download PDF (119.5 KB)
Download PDF (102.7 KB)
About the Author, Back Cover
Download PDF (60.6 KB)
Page Count: 376
Publication Year: 2013