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The Romantic Reformation


  • Page extent: 308 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.62 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 821/.709382
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: PR590 .R93 1997
  • LC Subject headings:
    • English poetry--19th century--History and criticism
    • Religion and literature--England--History--19th century
    • Religion and literature--England--History--18th century
    • English poetry--18th century--History and criticism
    • Religious poetry, English--History and criticism

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521570084 | ISBN-10: 0521570085)

This is the first book to examine the literature of the Romantic period as a conscious attempt to effect the religious transformation of society. Robert Ryan argues that the political quarrel that preoccupied England during the Romantic period was in large part an argument about the religious character of the nation, and that the Romantics became active and conspicuous participants in this public debate. Where critics have traditionally viewed the Romantics as creative metaphysicians articulating private visions of a transcendent order in detachment from actual social conflict, Ryan shows instead that their religious prescriptions were formulated in response to specific historical and social circumstances. This book shows how the careers of Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, Keats, and the Shelleys are radically reconfigured when viewed in the context of the period's passionate debate on religion, politics and society.

• First book to look at the subject of religion in Romantic poets • Engages with all major Romantic poets • Combines extensive historical research with close textual reading


Introduction; 1. 'A Sect of Dissenters'; 2. Blake's orthodoxy; 3. Nature's priest; 4. The ironies of belief; 5. The politics of Greek religion; 6. The Christian monster; 7. The unknown God; Conclusion.

Prize Winner

Conference on Christianity and Literature Prize 1997 - Winner

North American Conference on British Studies Prize 1997 - Winner


' … a refreshing contribution to recent Romantic studies'. Jon Mee, Romanticism on the Net

'This well-written book is an important contribution to studies of romantic-period literature for an unusual combination of reasons. The Romantic Reformation takes for its topics two that have been widely believed to be important as long as there have been studies of romantic-period literature: the writers' treatments of religion, and the question of the writers' religious beliefs … The Romantic Reformation displays throughout an integrity of scholarly purpose and a profound respect for its subject matter, voicing honest doubt, for example, rather than histrionics or dogma. While the achieved clarity of this book's prose opens the argument to a readership outside the small circle of specialists, the honesty and restraint of its method are exemplary.' Terence Allan Hoagwood, Texas A&M University

'… a much needed challenge to some firmly established views of British Romanticism. Foremost among these is the modernity of the Romantics … It is the virtue of Robert Ryan's important book to call our attention to the religious resonances that extend through Romantic culture, and to the tendencey of the Romantics to view religion in terms of hope for the future.' The Wordsworth Circle

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