Week 12

Romanticism is the dominant philosophical vision of the modern world.  The central ideas of Romanticism were first given expression in the books and essays of Jean Jacques Rousseau beginning in 1750, and it remains in the twenty-first century the single most powerful philosophical vision in Western Civilization.  For our winter quarter, a complete understanding of Romanticism is the proper and necessary foundation for all the remaining study during this quarter.  I have chosen these three individuals to speak for Romaticism in their three different fields:

Delacroix the painter, Rousseau the philosopher, Byron the poet.


Eugène Delacroix (26 April 1798 – 13 August 1863) was a French Romantic artist regarded from the outset of his career as the leader of the French Romantic school. Delacroix's use of expressive brushstrokes and his study of the optical effects of colour profoundly shaped the work of the Impressionists, while his passion for the exotic inspired the artists of the Symbolist movement. A fine lithographer, Delacroix illustrated various works of William Shakespeare, the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott and the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.


If you have never had the opportunity to study the prophet of Romanticism, this may be the time that you want to learn something more about him. The three-volume Cranston biography is the best in print.



Maurice Cranston,

Vol. 1: Jean-Jacques; the early Life and Work,

University of Chicago Press,

ISBN 0226118622

Maurice Cranston,

Vol. 2: The Noble Savage,

University of Chicago Press,

ISBN 0226118649

The best biography of Rousseau is written by an Englishman, (Can you imagine how the French hate that!) Maurice Cranston who devoted a lifetime to Rousseau and produced a brilliant biography at the end of his life. It is available in 3 softcover volumes. It is very readable, very well written. For our work the first volume is the most immediately useful but all three are worth reading at some point in your investigations into Romanticism.

Vol. 1: Jean-Jacques; the early Life and Work (1712-1754)

Vol. 2: The Noble Savage (1754-1762)

Vol. 3: The Solitary Self (1762-1778)

University of Chicago Press.

Maurice Cranston,

Vol. 3: The Solitary Self,

University of Chicago Press,

ISBN 0226118665


George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, later George Gordon Noel, 6th Baron Byron, FRS (22 January 1788 – 19 April 1824), commonly known simply as Lord Byron, was an English poet and a leading figure in Romanticism. Amongst Byron's best-known works are the brief poems "She Walks in Beauty," "When We Two Parted," and "So, we'll go no more a roving," in addition to the narrative poems "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" and "Don Juan." He is regarded as one of the greatest British poets and remains widely read and influential. Byron's notability rests not only on his writings but also on his life, which featured aristocratic excesses, huge debts, numerous love affairs, and self-imposed exile. He was famously described by Lady Caroline Lamb as "mad, bad and dangerous to know". He travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died from a fever contracted while in Messolonghi in Greece.

PART TWO: Painting

Eugene Delacroix