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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement & perfect introduction
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...
Published on 18 Sep 2010 by Didier

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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Primer
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...
Published on 31 Dec 2010 by Tufnell Paul


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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stunning achievement & perfect introduction, 18 Sep 2010
By 
Didier (Ghent, Belgium) - See all my reviews
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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. Finally, in the conclusion Blanning demonstrates how romanticism never really died (although with the advent of Realism such seemed the case) but re-emerged, transfigured, in e.g. symbolism and even post-modernism (which, just as romanticism, 'squarely belongs with the culture of feeling').

Add to this that Blanning's text abounds with a whole host of examples and quotes, ranges across all arts and most of Europe (though concentrating on England, France and Germany), is written in crystal-clear language, and the end result is the definitive introduction to Romanticism. This is certainly not the largest, most detailed survey of Romanticism, but as an introduction to the subject I find it very hard to imagine how this book could be bettered.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent introduction, 5 Dec 2011
By 
Ralph Blumenau (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Romantic Revolution (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've not read a better book on the Romantic Style., 18 Mar 2011
By 
John H. Turner "balletomane" (indianapolis, indiana) - See all my reviews
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The author sets out the basic tension between Classicism and Romanticism clearly. He shows the period's on-going influence on our ideas of and reactions to art and artists. Many of the people and their works have passed into obscurity, so understanding their influence is very valuable. The Romantics were difficult and self-indulgent by turns, but they managed to make virtues of both. We need to know this era to understand our own art and artists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars how romantic, 6 Mar 2014
By 
M. Baerends - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Romantic Revolution (Paperback)
Again an excellent book by Britain's bestest historian Tim Blanning. A very compact (186 pages) overview of how good art degenerated into bad art at the close of the 18th century. Whereas formerly artists knew their place and tried to please their audience (princes and their courtiers mostly) all of a sudden things derailed, artists became self-absorbed, egotistic self-styled geniuses who demanded royal treatment for themselves, obssessed about their inner feelings (when they didn't commit suicide) and embraced insane political causes. Strangely the public accepted it all, built dedicated 'temples' to art like concert buildings (rather than just taking a short ride to the nearest palace as they would have before). Fascinating stuff and very well written.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Primer, 31 Dec 2010
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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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4.0 out of 5 stars Great intro, 6 July 2014
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An easy-to-read introduction to the romantic movement and the prevailing culture of the time period in question. Just enough detail to whet the appetite.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fine overview of the Romantic period, 4 Jun 2014
By 
Kirk McElhearn (Near Stratford-upon-Avon) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Romantic Revolution (Paperback)
It’s hard in less than 200 pages to go into a great deal of detail, but in this book, Tim Blanning manages to sketch out the why and how of romanticism. Why this “movement” began, as a reaction against the Enlightenment, but also as an outgrowth of societal and political change. How romanticism spread, through the most important countries – Germany, France and England – and how new modes of production led to the diffusion of romantic ideas.

For the romantic movement is more than just an artistic movement, even though it covered the major forms of art: music, literature and painting. Many of the causes of its spread were due to new structures, institutions and technologies. Romantic music was spawned in part by the change from patronage to public support for musicians, both in performance and in publication, and to performances both in concert halls and in salons. Literature spread through the many changes in technology that made printing and books cheaper. And images circulated in the form of lithographs and other types of prints that were developed in the early 19th century.

Romanticism is, at heart, about the imagination, about feeling, about art for art’s sake, about the individual being the most important element in the world. Beethoven is the best example of the romantic artist, with Schubert a close second. But romanticism had many forms, from the near-transcendence of Beethoven’s late works, or of Schubert’s finest songs, to the development of characters in literature, such as in Hugo and Balzac. The rise of tourism – notably to the Alps and the Rhine – led to a new appreciation of nature, and a discovery of other lands and worlds. All in all, the romantic movement is probably the greatest cultural and artistic revolution of our time, and this book, in less than 200 pages, sketches the main figures and themes.

While this book is just an introduction, it gives plenty of suggestions of books to read, music to listen to, and art to see to better understand just how powerful this period was. This is a revolution that has not ended; our arts and culture are still influenced by the ideas of the romantics. And this book helps grasp just how important this period was.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating topic and a great read. Loved it., 18 Feb 2014
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This review is from: The Romantic Revolution (Paperback)
"The Romantic Revolution" is after "Pursuit of Glory", Tim Blanning's second book that blew me away. The writer provides a breathtaking overview of the first 100 years of the movement, describing vividly how it influenced Europe's culture in arts, music, literature, architecture, language, mythology and eventually politics.

By structuring the chapters by topic, the wonderful but often dark world of the Romantics is revealed. An inward-looking world ruled by the night, dreams, madness and emotions is explored by taking the reader on an exciting cultural journey. This time the grand tour goes from England and France via the Rhine and the Alps to Germany and includes side trips to the Czech Republic and Scotland. Travel companions include Rousseau, Beethoven, Liszt, Goya, Herder, Chatterton and Friedrich. The result is a fascinating story of a cultural revolution whose influence, especially in music, can still be felt to this day.

Blanning's pace and style are both appealing and lucid and topics covered filled many a blind spot in my knowledge. Especially the writer's explanation of "the cult of genius" helped me enjoy Peter Watson's "The German Genius" much more. All in all, I immensely enjoyed this masterwork from page one and highly recommend "The Romantic Revolution".
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting basic book, 1 July 2013
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This review is from: The Romantic Revolution (Paperback)
This book is good but does not explore in any real depth, however a good supplement to denser tomes on the period.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brodsky, 29 Dec 2010
If God existed and he, she or it wrote history, it would look like this. Amongst Blanning's divine characteristics this reviewer noted; the lyrical buoyancy of his prose, total comprehension of his subject matter and his ability to covey complex subjects clearly. Like his other work, this book is as at home on an undergraduate reading list as it is on the casual readers book shelf. Blanning is brilliant. Buy it.
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The Romantic Revolution
The Romantic Revolution by Prof. Tim Blanning (Paperback - 27 Oct 2011)
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