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Some Sources of Romanticism: 1 – In Search of a Definition

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Duration: 0:51:00 | Added: 07 Sep 2021
The first of Isaiah Berlin's famous 1965 Mellon Lectures

In March–April 1965 Isaiah Berlin delivered his most famous series of public lectures, the A. W. Mellon Lectures (sponsored by the Bollingen Foundation), at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. The lectures were entitled 'Some Sources of Romanticism', and transcripts were published posthumously as 'The Roots of Romanticism', edited by Henry Hardy (London, 1999: Chatto and Windus; Princeton, 1999: Princeton University Press). A second edition was published by Princeton in 2013, with a new foreword by John Gray and an appendix containing contemporary letters about the lectures. In this first lecture he confronts the vexed question of whether there is actually such a thing as Romanticism (a label, some hold, on too many bottles), and if so, how it is to be described and defined. Towards the end there occurs a celebrated rhetorical tour de force in which he breathlessly lists the many, very various, characteristics that have been called Romantic by writers on the subject.

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