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The Roots of Romanticism (Second Edition)

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In The Roots of Romanticism, one of the twentieth century's most influential philosophers dissects and assesses a movement that changed the course of history. Brilliant, fresh, immediate, and eloquent, these celebrated Mellon Lectures are a bravura intellectual performance. Isaiah Berlin surveys the many attempts to define romanticism, distills its essence, traces its developments from its first stirrings to its apotheosis, and shows how it still permeates our outlook. He ranges over a cast of some of the greatest thinkers and artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Kant, Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, the Schlegels, Novalis, Goethe, Blake, Byron, and Beethoven. The ideas and attitudes of these and other figures, Berlin argues, helped to shape twentieth-century nationalism, existentialism, democracy, totalitarianism, and our ideas about heroic individuals, self-fulfillment, and the exalted place of art.

This new edition, illustrated for the first time, also features a new foreword by philosopher John Gray, in which he discusses Berlin's belief that the influence of romanticism has been unpredictable and contradictory in the extreme, fuelling anti-liberal political movements but also reinvigorating liberalism; a revised text; and a new appendix that includes some of Berlin's correspondence about the lectures and the reactions to them.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 01, 1999 – In this posthumous volume, the British philosopher and historian of ideas quickly establishes his theory that Germany--not England or France--was the birthplace of the romantic movement. A sense of provincial insignificance and ressentiment against the sophistication, prestige and military power of the French underwrote the movement's birth, he contends. Still, the territory covered by "Romanticism" seems so vast as to be contradictory, containing both "primitivism" and "dandyism," the worship both of the noble savage's simplicity and of "red waistcoats, blue hair, green wigs, absinthe, death, suicide." While others have, understandably, thrown up their hands at the idea of uniting such disparate enthusiasms, Berlin sees contradiction itself as central to romanticism's legacy. Before romanticism, he argues, people believed that for any question there should be only one right answer, however difficult to discern. To a romantic, all beliefs, however incompatible, can be admired if they are held with real conviction--a notion from which both relativism and pluralism (like Berlin's own) are born. Further, the romantics sought to free the human will from all constraints: "the attempt to blow up and explode the very notion of a stable structure of anything," he asserts, is "the deepest and in a sense the most insane in this extremely valuable and important movement." As if in illustration of the romantics' own principle, Berlin, despite his belief that the movement's ideals ultimately become dangerous, nonetheless gets inside the minds of the thinkers he analyzes--Herder, Kant, Schiller--and presents their ideas persuasively. Written for a lecture series in the early '60s and not originally intended as a book (Hardy is to be commended for a masterful editing job), Berlin's work here transcends these limits. It is thoroughly brilliant, often thrilling and yet always accessible.
The Roots of Romanticism (Second Edition)
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  • $9.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Philosophy
  • Published: Jun 02, 2013
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Seller: Princeton University Press
  • Print Length: 248 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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