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The French Revolution and New Ethic, Transcendent Perspective - Romanticism

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In general, to the artists of the Romantic era, the French Revolution was far from being simply a widespread political phenomenon, a power struggle arising from economic deprivation of the lower classes in which politically ambitious figures manipulated circumstances in order to gain control of the government. For the Romantics, the Revolution was a human experience, a manifestation of primal forces at work in people’ s hearts and psyches.   The English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge idea of revolution was that it was “ not a conspiracy but an elemental power whose challenge cannot be answered by mere obedience to the past” (Ben-Israel, 2002).   As observers whose response to the passion of the Revolution was both eloquent and emotional,     “ Romantics always insisted that it was natural and honourable for young and benevolent hearts to fall for the French Revolution” (Ben-Israel, 2002).   One of the most “ natural” literary expressions from this period was Thomas Carlyle’ s history of the Revolution itself, which was “ an illustration of romantic history which consists mainly of the writing of imaginative, dramatic and live history” (Ben-Israel, 2002).   Some of the most renowned creative geniuses in the Western cultural tradition were deeply affected by the great principles of the Revolution.   Few have ever matched Beethoven for drama and sheer raw emotion.   A contemporary of the Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary periods, Beethoven translated the call for freedom,   creating a body of work that seemed to evoke the unlimited potential of the human spirit unshackled from the fetters of its oppressive past.   Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, one of many artists who gained inspiration from Beethoven’ s artistic vision, wrote “ Beethoven is the friend and contemporary of the French Revolution, and he remained faithful to it even when, during the Jacobin dictatorship, humanitarians with weak nerves… turned from it, preferring to destroy tyrants on the theatrical stage with the help of cardboard swords” (Stravinsky, 1998).    

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