Rousseau and Romanticism

Irving Babbitt

ISBN: 1143617320

Release: 01/1970

Rousseau and Romanticism by Irving Babbitt

 Author, In the early 1890s that he first allied himself with Paul Elmer More in developing the core doctrines that were to constitute what he called the "New Humanism". In 1895 he gave a lecture What is Humanism?, which announced his attack on Rousseau. At the time, Babbitt had switched out of classical studies. He would later declare his opposition to contemporary textual and philological scholarship, associated with German scholarship, as a finite task, which he was unhappy to see placed above teaching based on what he felt was the "eternal" moral and spiritual content of literary masterpieces. His ideas, and More's, were characteristically written as short pieces or essays that were later gathered into books. Babbitt's Literature and the American College, although assembled from writings already circulated, caused a stir when published in 1908. He continued to publish in the same vein, often denouncing authors from his avowed specialty, French literature. He also criticized Francis Bacon and denounced literary naturalism and utilitarianism. His central emphasis was on the individual moral character and human reason. He put stress on self-discipline and the need to control impulses seeking liberation from all restraints. He opposed naturalism on the grounds that it emphasizes the dominance of external natural forces over the strength of character and individual conscience.[4] He denounced romanticism; and especially its chief propagator, Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He warned that Rousseau was the chief negative influence over modern culture. He opposed overt sentimentalism, celebration of human perfection and utopian thinking of romanticism. His views were in the tradition of classical pre-romantic literature.

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