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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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French Romanticism and the Spirit of the Past

French Romanticism and the Spirit of the Past

(p.62) 4 French Romanticism and the Spirit of the Past
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

To say that the 1830s in France were a decade preoccupied with the past is to state the obvious. After the July Revolution, the Parisian elite became obsessed with constructing and reconstructing their nation’s historical narrative. Despite their radical agenda, the young romantics of the 1830s not only turned to the past in their quest for a more fully authentic age, but did so in the knowledge that this move was itself belated, since the first generation of romantics had already established the trope. Chapter 4 begins with a broad survey of this generation—discussing writers such as Gautier and Désiré Nisard, and movements such as Saint-Simonianism and Neo-Catholicism—before focusing in detail on two exemplary French Romantics: Alfred de Musset and Chateaubriand. In the work of these two very different writers, lateness manifests itself—in a range of differing modes—as the defining sentiment of the era.

Keywords:   romanticism, lateness, Théophile Gautier, Désiré Nisard, Alfred de Musset, Chateaubriand

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