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Gothic Romance

British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason by Timothy Michael

By Timothy Michael

What function may still cause play within the construction of a loose and simply society? do we declare to grasp whatever in a box as complicated as politics? and the way can the reason for political rationalism be complicated while it really is obvious as having blood on its arms? those are the questions that occupied a gaggle of British poets, philosophers, and polemicists within the years following the French Revolution.

Timothy Michael argues that a lot literature of the interval is an ordeal, or a critique, of cause in its political capacities and a attempt of the types of data to be had to it. For Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, the historic series of revolution, counter-revolution, and terror in France―and radicalism and repression in Britain―occasioned a dramatic reassessment of ways top to enhance the venture of enlightenment. The political considered those figures has to be understood, Michael contends, within the context in their philosophical idea. significant poems of the interval, together with The Prelude, The Excursion, and Prometheus Unbound, are during this analyzing an adjudication of competing political and epistemological claims.

This e-book bridges for the 1st time conventional pillars of Romantic reports: the period’s politics and its theories of the brain and data. Combining literary and highbrow historical past, it offers an account of British Romanticism within which excessive rhetoric, political prose, poetry, and poetics converge in a discourse of enlightenment and emancipation.

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It is true enough to say, also according to convention, that Words­worth and Coleridge begin their careers as radicals and end them as conservatives, though, as I hope to show, Words­worth is not entirely deluded when he says in 1816, “In nothing are my principles changed” (Coleridge would similarly emphasize the consistency of his principles around the same time). It is for this reason that Words­worth and Coleridge are perhaps the most nuanced, interesting po­liti­cal thinkers studied ­here. I hope that what follows brings out the complexity of each figure’s conception of the connections between issues of knowledge and issues of freedom, between the project of enlightenment and the project of emancipation.

Chomsky’s Cambridge lectures, discussed in greater detail in the next chapter, emphasize a concept of freedom he sees at the heart of Russell’s work and, he suggests, at the heart of a strain within early Romanticism. ” Acknowledging the evident relationship between rationalization and excesses of po­liti­cal power, Foucault rejects both the Kantian approach of putting reason on trial and the Frankfurt School approach of investigating the origins of po­liti­cal rationalism in the Enlightenment.

The rational affections are constructed by looking inward. Wollstonecraft’s first Vindication sets a po­liti­cal and epistemic course for an inward turn that would persist in British literature for de­cades. The implications of that turn in this text, building in part on a set of associations developed in Burke’s earlier Enquiry (1757), extend to aesthetics, gender relations, class hierarchy, and the sources of authority and obligation. Many of the predominant concerns of Romanticism begin ­here, in a vindication of rights that is simultaneously a vindication of reason.

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