Andrea Wulf’s writing is always relatable, a feature I loved in her Invention of Nature on Humbolt. She manages to be interesting and well researched with a focus of readability as opposed to some historical accounts that are too dense with fact for average tastes. Magnificent Rebels was a total surprise. From an general non-academic Anglo-centric perspective I assumed the Romantics sprung from Britain- not the German university town of Jena in the 1790s. It is a fascinating tale.
Goethe, Humbolt, Schelling, Schlegel, Schiller, Gottlieb, Fichte and Caroline Wilhelm were all seminary figures of this movement. At a time of antiquated politital over-governance Jena became a hub of thinking and intellectual rebellion. The cross pollination of scientific and literary greats gave rise to the Romantic movement with their interest in Galvanics (electricity) the birth of self and freedom of ideas. Frankenstein's muse. This is a fascinating informative read.
In the 1790s an extraordinary group of friends changed the world. Disappointed by the French Revolution's rapid collapse into tyranny, what they wanted was nothing less than a revolution of the mind. The rulers of Europe had ordered their peoples how to think and act for too long. Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics.
Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being.We're still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet. This extraordinary group of friends changed our world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.