A Concise Companion to the Romantic Age by Jon Klancher

By Jon Klancher

A Concise better half to the Romantic Age offers new views at the relationships among literature and tradition in Britain from 1780 to 1830

  • Provides unique essays from numerous multi-disciplinary students at the Romantic period
  • Includes clean insights into such issues as spiritual controversy and politics, empire and nationalism, and the connection of Romanticism to modernist aesthetics
  • Ranges around the Romantic era's literary, visible, and non-fictional genres

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S. Eliot, in Christianity and Culture, captured this blur with a useful banality: “a society has not ceased to be Christian until it has become something else” (1939/1988: 10). Eliot’s resigned expectation of continual transfiguration with no sense of what it was to be had been anticipated decades before by the sociologist Durkheim: “the ancient gods grow old or die, and others are not yet born. Hence the futility of . . old historic memories artificially reawakened: it is from life itself, and not from a dead past, that a living cult can emerge” (Durkheim 1912/2001: 322–3).

But with the change in policy as ordered by Hastings, in the 1770s the Company started systematically using local languages in its government of India, which obviously entailed British officials acquiring knowledge of those languages, in order, as Hastings put it, to “adapt our Regulations to the Manners and Understanding of the People, and Exigencies of the Country” (quoted in Cohn 1996: 26). Hastings ordered the extraction and circulation of Oriental knowledge for the purposes of command, not mere entertainment.

And if the new poet and the old priest try, as Blake believed, to make poetry simply in different ways, are not the old priest and the new poet, even in their differences, somehow the same? Hence the many Romantic attempts to define what a poet is – marking differences from the religious prophet, yet granting to the poet ancient prophetic gifts. Even in the most radical challenges to a Judeo-Christian God, the poet must avoid sophistications of the trap that catches Satan in Paradise Lost. ” he trumpets a false cry of liberation.

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