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Imagination in German Romanticism

Re-thinking the Self and its Environment

Jeanne Riou

In German Romanticism, the imagination is the site of the encounter between the subject and its environment; this book examines that encounter. Dealing with both literary and philosophical texts, it argues that the Romantic imagination performs a critique of rationalism. In reflecting on the fragmentary, the Romantics require the reader to both imagine and to question this as a hermeneutic process. As such, they understand writing to be an experiment in memory, both individual and cultural. This book is a study of the writings of E.T.A. Hoffmann, Novalis, Tieck and also of the utopian project of Romanticism itself. Methodologically, it is informed by what Foucault termed the archaeological approach to discourse as well as by psychoanalysis and literary theory. Examining points of contact as well of divergence between Kantian epistemology and Romantic nature philosophy, it also highlights the correspondences between literature, philosophy and science. Above all, it treats Romanticism as an experiment in the portrayal of ambivalent modern identity.
Contents: Mind, Body, Soul in Rationalistic discourses: Self-identity – History, Imagination and the Romantic Experiment – Narratives of Memory (Tieck and Hoffmann) – Die Elixiere des Teufels. Fictional Autobiography and the Search for an Authentic Self – Malevolent Innerlichkeit.