In her book, Romanticism and Postromanticism, Claudia Moscovici brings new insights into the history of the Romantic-era, comparing artists and writers from across the spectrum of Romanticism. This is an enlightening and complex read for anyone interested in the Romanticism-era, late eighteenth and early nineteenth century history, or artistic and philosophic movements in general.
Moscovici attempts to define Romanticism by delving into the philosophical interpretations of the era. The ever-present theme throughout Romanticism and Postromanticism seems to be an investigation of “emotion and its role in artistic creation” as a means to understand what it is to be human. Although Moscovici’s focus is primarily on the French Romantics (Rousseau, Stael and Baudelaire), her investigation encompasses the Romantic movements of Germany (Goethe) and England (Wordsworth) as well. Moscovici brings together the thoughts of varying artists to develop a whole picture of a movement that suggested artists and poets should “throw over them [ordinary people] a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual way” (Wordsworth) thus allowing us, the viewer and reader, to see and think in a broader and possibly bolder perspective.
Romanticism and Postromanticism by Claudia Moscovici cannot be called a light read. Parts of it, especially the introduction, read like a graduate thesis. However, Moscovici brings forth many interesting insights, both new and rehashed, into the meanings of Romanticism. It was rather surprising that Moscovici chose to leave out some of the more famous Romantic artists and writers, but her well chosen analysis still seemed to encompass an era of deep creativity and substance.
Most insightful, were Moscovici’s thoughts on Romanticism’s survival and continuance into our modern era. Postromanticism continues to flaunt, in subtle ways, the ideas first laid bare over two hundred years ago by its Romantic predecessor. Although a bit comprehensive for a casual read, any reader interested in an in-depth rumination on Romanticism will find Claudia Moscovici’s work thought provoking and informative.
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
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