89 books like Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries

By Marilyn Butler,

Here are 89 books that Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries fans have personally recommended if you like Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Natural Supernaturalism: Tradition and Revolution in Romantic Literature

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

When I was a student I found this book an inspiration. Beautifully written, it brings out deep affinities between the poetry and ideas of Wordsworth, Shelley, and other poets in England and the idealist philosophers in Germany, and the ways both groups rewrote the cosmic ideas of Christianity and ancient esoteric systems. It continually sets off sparks with its surprising comparisons. In the fifty years since it appeared, scholars have complained about how many writers the book leaves out, but given that its theme is “The High Romantic Argument” and not all of Romanticism, I am still impressed by how much it takes in.

By M. H. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Natural Supernaturalism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this remarkable new book, M. H. Abrams definitively studies the Romantic Age (1789-1835)-the age in which Shelley claimed that "the literature of England has arisen as it were from a new birth." Abrams shows that the major poets of the age had in common important themes, modes of expression, and ways of feeling and imagining; that the writings of these poets were an integral part of a comprehensive intellectual tendency which manifested itself in philosophy as well as poetry, in England and in Germany; and that this tendency was causally related to drastic political and social changes of the…


Book cover of The Roots of Romanticism

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

Though he declines to define it, Berlin says “The importance of romanticism is that it is the largest recent movement to transform the lives and the thought of the Western world.” In this brief set of lectures he dwells mainly on German writers, since Germany was arguably the homeland of romanticism. Berlin seems to know everything, but his erudition does not interfere with his lively style. What the book lacks in thoroughness it more than makes up with sharp and provocative ideas.

By Isaiah Berlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Roots of Romanticism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Roots of Romanticism, one of the twentieth century's most influential philosophers dissects and assesses a movement that changed the course of history. Brilliant, fresh, immediate, and eloquent, these celebrated Mellon Lectures are a bravura intellectual performance. Isaiah Berlin surveys the many attempts to define romanticism, distills its essence, traces its developments from its first stirrings to its apotheosis, and shows how it still permeates our outlook. He ranges over a cast of some of the greatest thinkers and artists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Kant, Rousseau, Diderot, Schiller, the Schlegels, Novalis, Goethe, Blake, Byron, and Beethoven.…


Book cover of The Consecration of the Writer, 1750-1830

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

France also had a rich Romantic movement (Chateaubriand, Madame de Staël, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset, to name a few writers, not to mention Delacroix and Berlioz), though it flowered later than those in Germany and England, probably because of the distraction of the Revolution. Bénichou’s book traces the origin of the “consecration” of the poet and creative genius, an idea fundamental to romanticism and still with us in our skeptical times. It is the first of four volumes on French romanticism, and it is a pity that the other three have yet to be translated.

By Paul Bénichou, Mark K. Jensen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Consecration of the Writer, 1750-1830 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Consecration of the Writer is the definitive study of the first stages of a phenomenon that has profoundly affected world literature: the process by which modern writers ceased to speak as representatives of some religious or political power and instead seized the mantle of spiritual authority in their own right, speaking directly to and in the name of humanity. Paul Benichou identifies three great moments in this process: the advent of the Enlightenment faith in philosophy and the rise of its literary concomitant, the man of letters; the literary creations of the counterrevolution and their surprising involvement in the…


Book cover of Romanticism

Michael K. Ferber Author Of Romanticism: A Very Short Introduction

From my list on how romanticism transformed western culture.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with the British Romantic poets when I took a course about them, and I fixated like a chick on the first one we studied, William Blake. He seemed very different from me, and in touch with something tremendous: I wanted to know about it. Ten years later I wrote my doctoral dissertation on Blake, and then published quite a bit about him. Meanwhile there were other poets, poets in other countries, and painters and musicians: besides being accomplished at their art, I find their ideas about nature, the self, art, and society still resonate with me.

Michael's book list on how romanticism transformed western culture

Michael K. Ferber Why did Michael love this book?

Art history also knows a Romantic movement, as does music history. Brown’s book has 250 color plates, mostly of painting from Constable, Turner, Blake, Friedrich, Delacroix, Goya, and many others, but also of some architectural wonders. Brown makes continual connections to the poetry and philosophy of the time, and to political events, as he organizes his chapters by theme: the cult of the artist, the religion of nature, the sense of the past, orientalism, and the exotic, and so on. There are several fine books on Romantic painting, but this is probably the best place to begin.

By David Blayney Brown,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Romanticism as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Romanticism was a way of feeling rather than a style in art. In the period c.1775-1830 - against the background of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars - European artists, poets and composers initiated their own rebellion against the dominant political, religious and social ethos of the day. Their quest was for personal expression and individual liberation and, in the process, the Romantics transformed the idea of art, seeing it as an instrument of social and psychological change.

In this comprehensive volume, David Blayney Brown takes a thematic approach to Romanticism, relating it to the concurrent, more stylistic movements…


Book cover of The Pleasures of the Imagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

This book is a pleasure to read. John Brewer shows us the birth of "high culture" in Britain, the many ways that a national public became aware that music, painting, theater, and poetry could bring people together and make them happy.

Low life and high life, Grub Street and royalty all come into play. And the book never forgets that the arts can be a source of fun, not only for those who create and follow them but for everyone who reads about them.

By John Brewer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Pleasures of the Imagination as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Pleasures of the Imagination examines the birth and development of English "high culture" in the eighteenth century. It charts the growth of a literary and artistic world fostered by publishers, theatrical and musical impresarios, picture dealers and auctioneers, and presented to th public in coffee-houses, concert halls, libraries, theatres and pleasure gardens. In 1660, there were few professional authors, musicians and painters, no public concert series, galleries, newspaper critics or reviews. By the dawn of the nineteenth century they were all aprt of the cultural life of the nation.

John Brewer's enthralling book explains how this happened and recreates…


Book cover of The Untuning of the Sky: Ideas of Music in English Poetry 1500-1700

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

Hollander's wonderful book is a tribute to the power of music, which can transform ideas and myths into rhythms and feelings that immediately touch the heart. 

A fine poet himself, he relishes the quests of poets and musicians to turn mere words and notes into something divine, as if we could hearken to the gods (whether Christian or pagan). The analysis of particular works of art is always scholarly and penetrating; but more than that, it conveys a poet's love of what great artists have done.

By John Hollander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Untuning of the Sky as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

1970 W. W. NORTON & CO. SOFTCOVER


Book cover of The Sister Arts: The Tradition of Literary Pictorialism and English Poetry from Dryden to Gray

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

In the Restoration and the eighteenth century, the mark of a true poet was to see thingsto describe the visible and invisible worlds so vividly that everyone could see them too. 

Most modern readers are blind to this. But Jean Hagstrum teaches us how to see with eighteenth-century eyes. The pictures that poets make, and the paintings that inspire those visions, come alive in thoughtful readings that focus on the workshops of art: the schools where artists learn the craft of making what is imagined into something that seems real.

By Jean H. Hagstrum,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Sister Arts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition

Lawrence Lipking Author Of The Ordering of the Arts in Eighteenth-Century England

From my list on the arts as crucial elements of human life.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a chameleon scholar. Though my first love is poetry, I have written about all the arts, about 18th-century authors (especially Samuel Johnson), about theories of literature and literary vocations, about Sappho and other abandoned women, about ancients and moderns and chess and marginal glosses and the meaning of life and, most recently, the Scientific Revolution. But I am a teacher too, and The Ordering of the Arts grew out of my fascination with those writers who first taught readers what to look for in painting, music and poetrywhat works were best, what works could change their lives. That project has inspired my own life and all my writing.

Lawrence's book list on the arts as crucial elements of human life

Lawrence Lipking Why did Lawrence love this book?

This classic study introduced me and the whole world of critics and scholars to theoretical perspectives that still resonate among historians of literature and culture. 

It defines a momentous change: the shift from views of art as a mirrora reflection of things as they areto a lampa radiant projection from the hearts and minds of its creators. This revolution in aesthetic principles, formulated by German and British theorists, also resulted in new ways of looking at nature and in new kinds of poetry. 

Abrams charts the depths of Romantic theory; and his work helped spur a revival of interest in the Romanticsnow often cherished as the first modern poets.

By M. H. Abrams,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mirror and the Lamp as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This highly acclaimed study analyzes the various trends in English criticism during the first four decades of this century.


Book cover of The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Fiona Sampson Author Of Two-Way Mirror: The Life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning

From my list on literary biographies.

Why am I passionate about this?

Fiona Sampson is a leading British poet and writer, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, awarded an MBE for services to literature. Published in thirty-seven languages, she’s the recipient of numerous national and international awards. Her twenty-eight books include the critically acclaimed In Search of Mary Shelley, and Two-Way Mirror: The life of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and she’s Emeritus Professor of Poetry, University of Roehampton.

Fiona's book list on literary biographies

Fiona Sampson Why did Fiona love this book?

The granddaddy of literary autobiography and biography, Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Confessions was written in 1769 but published posthumously in 1782. Rousseau, whose pioneering Romantic political philosophy was by then already influential, was setting out to do something equally new when he decided to study human nature, taking as his experimental model the human he knew best – himself. The rollicking result, sometimes self-flagellating, occasionally exhibitionist, deviates from its own model, St Augustine’s fourth-century religious-philosophical Confessions, in being chock-full of what nowadays we call emotional intelligence.

By Jean-Jacques Rousseau, J. Cohen (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Widely regarded as the first modern autobiography, The Confessions is an astonishing work of acute psychological insight. Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-78) argued passionately against the inequality he believed to be intrinsic to civilized society. In his Confessions he relives the first fifty-three years of his radical life with vivid immediacy - from his earliest years, where we can see the source of his belief in the innocence of childhood, through the development of his philosophical and political ideas, his struggle against the French authorities and exile from France following the publication of Emile. Depicting a life of adventure, persecution, paranoia, and…


Book cover of The Five-Minute Marriage

Suzanne Allain Author Of Miss Lattimore's Letter

From my list on books for Jane Austen fans.

Why am I passionate about this?

I stumbled across Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice when I was twelve years old and fell in love with her humorous, witty writing and quirky characters. I saved my allowance and bought an omnibus of her complete works, but it wasn’t enough: I was hooked and wanted to read more books like hers. A decade later, I started to write books like hers, and my first Regency-set romantic comedy was published in 2001. The movie Mr. Malcolm’s List, based on my novel, was released in theaters in 2022, and I had the pleasure of hearing people laughing as they watched it, as I had so often laughed while reading Austen’s work.

Suzanne's book list on books for Jane Austen fans

Suzanne Allain Why did Suzanne love this book?

This was the first book I read by Joan Aiken, and I found after reading some of her backlist that this was the only one I liked. Some of the other historical fiction she wrote is much darker, but this book, while it does have a mystery subplot, is lighthearted and fun with a sweet romance.

It is a delightfully convoluted tale that will keep you guessing up until the very end when its downtrodden, capable heroine saves the day and gets her man. 

By Joan Aiken,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Five-Minute Marriage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

First comes marriage.

Then comes love.

Then things start to get really complicated.

Desperate to help her ailing mother, Delphie Carteret agrees to a sham wedding ceremony to her cousin, Gareth. Her mother will be guaranteed annuity for life, and Gareth's obligation to marry before his sick uncle passes is fulfilled. The plan is perfect.

But perfect plans usually go awry. Not only is the marriage ceremony valid, but Gareth's dying uncle makes a miraculous recovery. An imposter is threatening Delphie's identity and her life, and the whole family is on the brink of scandal.

As Gareth and Delphie try…


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