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The Roots of Romanticism
Second Edition
Isaiah Berlin
Edited by Henry Hardy
With a new foreword by John Gray

Paperback | 2013 | $12.95 | £10.95 | ISBN: 9780691156200
248 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | 6 halftones.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400846696 |
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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.


"Thoroughly brilliant, often thrilling and yet always accessible."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Exhilaratingly thought-provoking."--The Times (London)

"Berlin at his best: quick-minded, erudite, witty and profound, and, above all, exciting. To read this book is to feel the force of living thought coming white-hot from the forge of a superb mind."--John Banville, The Irish Times

"Here is Berlin doing what everyone said he did best: talk. . . . Berlin remains the tactful guest, discerning liberalism, toleration, decency and the appreciation of the imperfections of life also among the romantic movement's legacies. . . . Berlin liked to remind people that when they most believe they know where they are going, that is when they are likeliest to be wrong."--Colin Walters, The Washington Times

"A fascinating intellectual history. . . . Berlin partakes in a kind of victory celebration, an often breathless study of the movement that ended the hegemony of the rationalist tradition."--Douglas A. Sylva, New York Times Book Review

"A superlatively readable and absorbing primer. . . . As Berlin unfolds [Romanticism's] development, politics and art as we know them become more comprehensible than ever before."--Booklist

"The lecture pace of this volume makes it an excellent resource for both beginning researcher and seasoned scholar."--Library Journal

"[A] supremely intelligent and illuminating little book. . . . [A] marvelous example of Berlin doing what he did best--the judiciously poised and open-minded elucidation of 18th- and 19th-century philosophy. . . . In an era where humane intellectual discourse has been deconstructed, intertextualised, phallicised and generally kicked senseless, Berlin's writing shines like a beacon."--Rupert Christiansen, The Spectator

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Table of Contents:

Foreword by John Gray xi
Editor's Preface xix
1 In Search of a Definition 1
2 The First Attack on Enlightenment 26
3 The True Fathers of Romanticism 54
4 The Restrained Romantics 79
5 Unbridled Romanticism 107
6 The Lasting Effects 137
Appendix to the Second Edition 171
References 181
Index 201

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Henry Hardy:

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Isaiah Berlin:

Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John Gray:


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Published in association with the National Gallery of Art, Washington

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