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The Age of Revolution 1789-1848. EHobsbawm (1996) (pp. 263-4)

August 25, 2013

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“The longing that haunted it was for the lost unity of man and nature. The bourgeois world was a profoundly and deliberately asocial one. ‘It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his “natural superiors”, and has left no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash-payment”. It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom—Free Trade.’ The voice is that of the Communist Manifesto, but it speaks for all romanticism also. Such a world might make men wealthy and comfortable, though as a matter of fact it seemed evident that it also made others—a much greater number— hungry and miserable; but it left their souls naked and alone. It left them homeless and lost in the universe as ‘alienated’ beings. It left them cut off by a revolutionary chasm in world history from even the most obvious answer to alienation, the decision never to leave the old home. The poets of German romanticism thought they knew better than anyone that salvation lay only in the simple modest working life that went on in those idyllic pre-industrial little towns that dotted the dream-landscapes, which they described more irresistibly than they have ever been described by anyone. And yet their young men must leave to pursue the by definition endless quest for the ‘blue flower’ or merely to roam forever, homesick and singing Eichendorff lyrics or Schubert songs. The wanderer’s song is their signature tune, nostalgia their companion. Novalis even defined philosophy in terms of it.”

[op. cit., pp. 263-4]

Manuel J. Matos‘s insight:

 Hobsbawm’s personal definiton of Romantism, and quite a literary one …

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