Forms of Reflexivity in the Revolutionary Era
Chai begins with P. B. Shelley on the need for conceptual framework, or theory. He then considers how Friedrich Wolf and Friedrich Schlegel shift from a preoccupation with antiquity to a heightened self-awareness of Romantic nostalgia for that lost past. He finds a similar reflexivity in Napoleon's battle plan at Jena and, subsequently, in Hegel's move from substance to subject. Chai then turns to the sciences: Xavier Bichat's rejection of the idea of a unitary vital principle for life as process; the chemical theory of matter developed by Humphry Davy; and the work of Évariste Galois, whose proof of the solvability of equations using radicals ushered in the age of metatheory.
Chai concludes with reactions to theory: Coleridge's proposal of the conflict between reason and understanding as a model of theory, Mary Shelley's effort to replace theory with a different kind of relationship to external others, and Hölderlin's reflection on the limits of representation and the possibility of fulfillment beyond it.
About the Author
"I would unhesitatingly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in how the history of thought impinges on current theoretical concerns."—James Carey, French Studies
"An excellent monograph, which should be required reading for those interested in the theoretical underpinnings of the Romantic period as well as Romantic scholars in general."—G. Todd Davis, BARS Bulletin and Review
"Fine new study . . . Chai's book makes a valuable contribution to the study of Romanticism."—Thomas Pfau, Red Orbit
"Chai's book will quickly occupy a place among those prominent recent works that have shaped the understanding of both Romanticism and our relationship to it."—Brian Tucker, Monatshefte
"This is a difficult but rewarding book. It will make its mark even on those readers least prepared to assent to Chai's arguments, and it is likely to instigate an intriguing debate."—Wordsworth Circle
"Quite refined, and from such scholarship readers will surely benefit."—Brad Prager, Comparative Literature Studies
"Highly thought provoking study."—Forum of Modern Language Studies
"Leon Chai has produced an impressive study of European Romantic theory and theorizing that helps to place the current state of critical throy in historical perspective."—Stuart Peterfreund, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature
Other Titles in LITERARY CRITICISM / Semiotics & Theory
Other Titles in Literary theory