The English Romantic period—when, as Wordsworth wrote, "the whole earth/The beauty wore of promise"—was also a time in which many of our contemporary attitudes, conventions, and institutions originated. The present book explores, in fascinating depth, the context given by human beings of the time to what its writers called "the spirit of the age."
Professor Gaull begins her survey with a section entitled" The Human Context," in which she explores the literary marketplace, children's literature and education, the theater, economics, and the idea of the hero. In the next group of chapters, generally titled "The Illusion of History," she investigates how the Romantics invented the past, studied natural history and its illusion, and created the ideas of the gothic and of the bards. her final section is "The Experimental Arts," with chapters studying the age's poetry, painting, and science.
Within each of the chapters the Romantic figures most appropriate to those chapters are treated in detail—as, for example, Byron and Byronism in "Heros and Heroism." Professor Guall's original research and infectious style make this book the ideal, if not necessary, companion in courses on the Romantic poets or in intellectual history.