Studies in the Genesis of Romantic Theory in the Eighteenth Century: By J.G. Robertson

Studies in the Genesis of Romantic Theory in the Eighteenth Century: By J.G. Robertson

Studies in the Genesis of Romantic Theory in the Eighteenth Century: By J.G. Robertson

Studies in the Genesis of Romantic Theory in the Eighteenth Century: By J.G. Robertson

Excerpt

The present series of studies, which seeks to establish a new starting-point for the evolution of aesthetic values in the eighteenth century, originated in the most trivial of literary 'discoveries.' Some twenty years ago I set myself to solve the mystery why the Swiss critic Bodmer, one of the early continental writers to mention Shakespeare's name, should have called him 'Sasper.' The ingenious phonetic explanations advanced by German scholars, were unconvincing; and I surmised that an eighteenth-century Italian was more likely to have thus maltreated Shakespeare's name than a writer whose mother-tongue was German. Bodmer's Italian source was not very difficult to find, and, although in itself little more than a literary curiosity, it led me to a further hypothesis, namely, that Bodmer and his friend Breitinger might not, as had hitherto been believed, have drawn their ideas on literary aesthetics so much from Addison and Du Bos, as from Italian sources, even that English and French critics might owe some debt in that quarter; that, in other words, the movement which led to the dethronement of the Reason as the chief arbiter in poetic creation, and gave the first place to the Imagination--a movement which, in Germany, inaugurated the rapid development culminating in Goethe and Schiller--is to be put to the credit of Italy rather than ourselves.

In furtherance of the work on Bodmer and Breitinger, which was inaugurated with the Bodmer-Denkschrift of 1900, I undertook a series of investigations into the genesis of the Swiss critical theory, and, in particular, copied and collated Bodmer's letters lying in Swiss, German and North Italian libraries. I had hoped, in collaboration with Swiss scholars, to publish a critical edition of Bodmer's early correspondence and certain of his and Breitinger's aesthetic writings; but the war intervened, and the scheme is still in abeyance. Meanwhile, the larger aspect of the question, the influence of Italy on the general critical theory of Europe, as a kind of aftermath of the 'Quarrel . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.