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The Romantic Revolution (UNIVERSAL HISTORY) Hardcover – 12 Aug 2010

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: W&N (12 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297859005
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297859000
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.4 x 20.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 462,642 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


a splendidly pithy and provocative introduction to the culture of Romanticism (DOMINIC SANDBROOK THE SUNDAY TIMES - 15.08.10)

It is hard to imagine that Blanning could have done more within the 180 page span of his text... He is a master of crisp condensation. (JONATHAN BATE THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - 15.08.10)

provocative guide to the culture of Romanticism (SUNDAY TIMES 'Must Reads' - 29.08.10)

full of fascinating sketches and details. (DAILY TELEGRAPH - 28.08.10)

Book Description

A brilliant synoptic account of how the Romantic Movement for ever changed the way we see things and express ourselves.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 18 Sep 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A while ago I read Blanning's The Pursuit of Glory: Europe 1648-1815 (Penguin History of Europe) and was completely bowled over by the learning and originality, all of it delivered in a seemingly effortless style and manner. This book, though on a completely different subject matter, is certainly no less an achievement. In the short span of just 186 pages (not counting the notes, list for further reading and index) Blanning masterly summarizes this most fascinating of subjects: Romanticism.

In the introduction Blanning argues that, besides the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution, the Romantic Revolution was as (if not more) important, and just as radical and far-reaching. He then sets out to prove his point in a very logical framework. Chapter I ('the crisis of the age of reason') deals with the beginnings of romanticism, the radical shift it caused from a mimetic to an expressive aesthetic, how it led to the cult of the artist genius (which is still very much alive today), and these same artists' dual relation with their public.

In chapter II ('the dark side of the moon') he covers the romantics' fascination with all aspects of the human experience so alien to the Enlightenment: dreams and nightmares, madness, the 'wonder-world of the night'. In chapter III ('language, history and myth') he turns his attention to how romanticism sparked a renewed interest in (national) history, folk tales and folk lore, and how each nation searched (and found, if necessary using forgeries) their own 'golden age, often set in medieval times.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 Dec 2011
Format: Paperback
There are several good short introductions to Romanticism (by J.L.Talmon, H.G.Schenk and Rupert Christiansen - to name only the ones on my shelves), but now this excellent short text of just 186 pages joins them. It is particularly rich in short but well-chosen excerpts from a wide range of the writings of the time. It covers all the usual themes, but there are also a passages about less familiar aspects or episodes. I had not previously been conscious of the Romantic cult of the Night as opposed to the Enlightenment's cult of the Light. We learn about a little-known Czech epic forged by one Vaclav Hanka, which for the Czech imagination was as influential as that other forgery by James Macpherson - the poems of Ossian - was for Europe in general and for Scotland in particular. There is the story of the British handing over to the Turks the Greek town of Parga in 1818, "well-reported" at the time but which hardly figures in the history books today: it was a tragic episode which contributed to the role that Greece played in the Romantic imagination.

In his short last chapter Blanning deals with the apparent death of Romanticism as Realism in art and literature took over and materialism asserted itself - but that death was only apparent; and the reaction to that world took the form of the neo-Romanticism of Symbolism, and of a new romantic obsession with death and night and sex. Blanning shows that even thereafter the swing of the pendulum (he sees it as dialectical development - I prefer to see it as co-existence) had not come to a end.

Blanning has packed an enormous amount into his short space, and it is only the last thirty pages or so which I thought were a little too hectic.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tufnell Paul on 31 Dec 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The best thing about this book is its length. For a history book by a professional historian, it is laudably short. The book gets its points across clearly and with precision. As something to dip into for the desperate, essay writing sixth former or undergraduate looking for an idea or quote, it would be hard to better.

For those looking for a more comprehensive purview of the romantic movement and its effect on society, it leaves a lot to be desired. There seems to be a whole chapter missing - the one that deals with romantic theories of science. These had a powerful influence on the biological sciences in particular.

The chapter on the romantics' interest in language, history and myth is the high point of the book. This is taken forward into the complex, almost incomprehensible positioning of the romantics in contemporary politics - a sort of reactionary liberalism, loosely tied to an idealised pastoral volk and terrified of the urban mob.

The influence of the romantics on contemporary political thinking and on social policies is not covered; it is treated as an almost exclusively artistic movement. Again romantic thinking on what constituted a "people" revolutionised concepts of nationhood, which had reverberations beyond the nineteenth century into the twentieth.

The book ends with the classical-romantic "dialectic" continuing all the way up to the present day. This further confuses the definition of the word "romantic". To support the book's arguments, quotes seem to be selected at random across the period 1760-1880. I could have used a little more rigour around the definition of the term, but perhaps that deserves a (longer) book by itself.
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