The Romantic Revolution by Tim Blanning - review by William St Clair

William St Clair

With Feeling

The Romantic Revolution


Weidenfeld & Nicolson 248pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The opening premise of Tim Blanning’s attractive book is that there were three revolutions at the turn of the nineteenth century. More or less simultaneously, the Europeanised world experienced a ‘political revolution’ that began when most of the British mainland colonies in North America declared independence, to be soon followed by the violent overthrow of the old-regime governments in France and elsewhere; an ‘industrial revolution’, in which economies shifted from agriculture to manufacturing in factories; and a ‘romantic revolution’, which he describes as ‘a radically different approach to artistic creation’.

Blanning notes correctly that these conceptual categories were invented later as attempts to explain transformations for which traditional histories were inadequate. However, the possible links and interconnections between the three revolutions – some understanding that political and economic change is related to the knowledge base and states of

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