This concise Broadview anthology of primary source materials is unique in its focus on Romantic literature and the ways in which the period itself was characterized by wide-ranging, self-conscious debates about the meaning of literature. It includes materials that are not available in other Romantic literature anthologies.
The anthology is organized into thirteen sections that highlight the intensity and sophistication with which a variety of related literary issues were debated in the Romantic period. These debates posed fundamental questions about the very nature of literature as a cultural phenomenon, the extent and role of the reading public, literature's relation to the sciences and the aesthetic, the influence of contemporary commercial pressures, and the impact of perceived excesses in consumer fashions. The anthology foregrounds the ways that these literary debates converged with broader social and political controversies such as the French Revolution, the struggle for women's rights, colonialism, and the anti-slave trade campaign.
This anthology includes an impressive range of writings from the period (including literary criticism and philosophical, political, scientific, and travel writing) which embodies the collection's broad approach to Romantic literature. Both lesser-known and more canonical writings are included, and the selections are organized by topic in such a way as to dramatize the debates and exchanges which characterize the Romantic period.