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Lateness and Modern European Literature$
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Ben Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.001.0001

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The Spirit of the Age

The Spirit of the Age

(p.31) 1 The Spirit of the Age
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

Understanding the European climate of lateness in the 1820s and 1830s as a consequence of the new historical consciousness in the post-Revolutionary moment of romanticism, Chapter 1 explores the epochal self-awareness that had emerged by the time of late romanticism. Concentrating in particular on the suddenly ubiquitous term ‘the spirit of the age’, it surveys uses of the term by Shelley, Hazlitt, Mill, and de Musset to suggest that this self-consciousness regarding the status of the era is characteristic of late periods. Following Reinhart Koselleck’s concept of the Sattelzeit—as well as further theorists of modernity such as Hans Robert Jauss and Michel Foucault—this introductory chapter suggests that by the time of late romanticism, the spirit of the age was profoundly ambivalent, as the post-romantic, post-Napoleonic era struggled to assert itself.

Keywords:   spirit of the age, romanticism, Musset, Shelley, John Stuart Mill

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