chapter  1
22 Pages

Romanticism and Modern Fiction

Proust
ByJohn McCormick

Standard accounts of the genesis of Romanticism, particularly those in English, fail to emphasize the importance of historical theory for the first Romantics. The early Romantic awareness of history may be seen in the work of the gifted Friedrich von Hardenberg, Novalis. Despite his visionary quality, Novalis' conception of history denies the cliche of Romantic escape, of Romantic abstraction, and of Romantic irresponsibility. Novalis' view of the State, his idea of the nation, is close to that of Adam Muller, "the political philosopher of Romanticism", in Hans Kohn's words. Romanticism made nature available to art through the identification of the natural with the Good, and through the Romantic conviction that the supremacy of art over all other human activity is the result of the artist's fundamental, organic relationship to nature. Proust's link between his post-Romantic conception of the self and history is, logically and in fact, time.