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1 - Coleridge, Hume, and the chains of the Romantic imagination

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Cairns Craig
Affiliation:
Professor of Scottish and Modern Literature, and Director of the Centre for the History of Ideas Scotland, University of Edinburgh
Leith Davis
Affiliation:
Simon Fraser University, British Columbia
Ian Duncan
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
Janet Sorensen
Affiliation:
University of California, Berkeley
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Summary

Despite being defined as an Enlightenment only in 1900 by W.R. Scott, no geography of the Enlightenment could now ignore Scotland's contribution. As Alasdair MacIntyre framed it in After Virtue,

The French themselves often avowedly looked to English models, but England in turn was overshadowed by the achievements of the Scottish Enlightenment. The greatest figures of all were certainly German: Kant and Mozart. But for intellectual variety as well as intellectual range not even the Germans can outmatch David Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, John Millar, Lord Kames and Lord Monboddo.

Not so, however, with Romanticism. In accounts of the Romantic movement over the last twenty years, Scotland and Scottish writers can be singularly absent. Cynthia Chase's Romanticism (1993), a typical collection of critical essays from both sides of the Atlantic, mentions Macpherson and Scott only in footnotes to essays on Wordsworth and Byron, and Burns, Baillie, and Hogg make no appearance at all. Chase's introduction acknowledges Jerome McGann's argument about the extent to which modern criticism has operated with conceptions of literary form and value that themselves derive from Romantic writing: as McGann put it in 1992, using Rene Wellek as the symptomatic critic of Romanticism, “Wellek's position fails to map the phenomena comprehensively because it is a specialized theoretical view derived from the Kantian/Coleridgean line of thought.”

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2004

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