By David Goslee
Goslee’s study maintains that Newman’s Anglican writing, although widely considered irrelevant to the main currents of the post-Enlightenment, in fact reinterprets Romantic transcendence within a uniquely dialogic paradigm. It is this paradigm, he argues, that critics need to explore as a link between sacred and secular domains within Victorian culture.
Goslee’s own exploration is accomplished in three parts. First he describes Newman’s early renunciation of modern thought, then analyzes the dialogic Romanticism that informs New man’s Anglican works, particularly its power to expand his conception of personal identity, spiritual election, militant purpose, self-criticism, and cultural critique. Finally, he follows the collapse of this Romantic synthesis under the burden of its own success: natural and preternatural presences break into Newman’s dialogue with his God, and then his God becomes transformed into a threat that must be constrained within an institutional church.
Throughout this study, Goslee follows a hermeneutic strategy suggested by Newman’s own descriptions of his compositional practice – examining thematically related passages from different times and contexts to see just how far Newman’s ideas might take him. Goslee concludes that this leading nineteenth-century religious writer, who rejected Romanticism for its decadent modern subjectivity, nevertheless clearly participated in the secular Romanticism of his day.
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An active blogger on The Zeleza Post, from which these essays are drawn, Paul Tiyambe Zeleza provides a genuinely critical engagement with Africa’s multiple worlds. With a blend of erudition and lively style, Zeleza writes about the role of Africa and Africans in the world and the interaction of the world with Africa. In the title essay, Zeleza analyzes the significance of the election of a member of the African diaspora to the presidency of the United States.
Throughout the first half of the nineteenth century, America was captivated by a muddled notion of “etymology.” New England Transcendentalism was only one outcropping of a nationwide movement in which schoolmasters across small-town America taught students the roots of words in ways that dramatized religious issues and sparked wordplay. Shaped by this ferment, our major romantic authors shared the sensibility that Friedrich Schlegel linked to punning and christened “romantic irony.”
Valuable and timely in its long historical and critical perspective on the legacy of romanticism to Victorian art and thought, The Rescue of Romanticism is the first book-length study of the close intellectual relationship between Walter Pater and John Ruskin, the two most important Victorian critics of art.