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Monthly Carcanet Books

This review is taken from PN Review 12, Volume 6 Number 4, March - April 1980.

ROMANTIC ROOTS Brian Hepworth, The Rise of Romanticism: Essential Texts (Carcanet) £7.90

Brian Hepworth's The Rise of Romanticism: Essential Texts is a critical anthology of texts which contributed to the growth of Romanticism. In it, excerpts from the works of relatively obscure writers such as Trapp, Burnet, Spence, Morgann and Hurd, find a place alongside those of Lowth, Burke, Hartley, Akenside, Addison and other respected theorists. The thought of those philosophical giants, Locke, Berkeley and Hume, is also represented. This catalogue of names reveals a curious disparity between the title and the contents of the book: we are promised texts pertaining to the rise of Romanticism-those we are given are exclusively concerned with the evolution of English Romanticism. With the exception of one passage taken from the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, all the rest issue from the pens of Englishmen. This is a perfectly legitimate bias-what is disconcerting is Hepworth's failure to prepare the reader for it. This omission is bound to disorient us, distracting our attention, albeit temporarily, from the contents of the book, as we ponder the significance of the discrepancy. Is Hepworth assuming that the Romantic movement found its most complete expression in England, or that it can be reduced, without remainder to its English exponents? Clearly not. But it is unfortunate that we have to entertain this possibility until familiarity with the text reassures us that Hepworth may be guilty of an oversight-but he is not guilty of parochialism. Once we have resolved this tension we are able to attend more carefully to the contents of the ...


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