British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason

British Romanticism and the Critique of Political Reason

eBook - 2016
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Author Timothy Michael gives readers an in-depth examination of the political philosophy that dominated Britain and France in the Romantic Period. He argues over the book's eight chapters that a great deal of the period’s literary output takes the form of a critique of reason, its political value, and the types of knowledge attainable through it. He examines the works of Kant, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, and many other writers and philosophers of the period. The author is a faculty member of Lincoln College and University of Oxford in the UK. Annotation ©2016 Ringgold, Inc., Portland, OR (

Johns Hopkins University Press

What role should reason play in the creation of a free and just society? Can we claim to know anything in a field as complex as politics? And how can the cause of political rationalism be advanced when it is seen as having blood on its hands? These are the questions that occupied a group of British poets, philosophers, and polemicists in the years following the French Revolution.

Timothy Michael argues that much literature of the period is a trial, or a critique, of reason in its political capacities and a test of the kinds of knowledge available to it. For Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Burke, Wollstonecraft, and Godwin, the historical sequence of revolution, counter-revolution, and terror in France—and radicalism and repression in Britain—occasioned a dramatic reassessment of how best to advance the project of enlightenment. The political thought of these figures must be understood, Michael contends, in the context of their philosophical thought. Major poems of the period, including The Prelude, The Excursion, and Prometheus Unbound, are in this reading an adjudication of competing political and epistemological claims.

This book bridges for the first time two traditional pillars of Romantic studies: the period’s politics and its theories of the mind and knowledge. Combining literary and intellectual history, it provides an account of British Romanticism in which high rhetoric, political prose, poetry, and poetics converge in a discourse of enlightenment and emancipation.

Publisher: Baltimore, Maryland :, Johns Hopkins University Press,, 2016
ISBN: 9781421418049
Characteristics: 1 online resource


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