Phenomenology and Revolutionary Romanticism

  • Jack Jacobs
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 75)

Abstract

The premise of this discussion is that there are great benefits to be gained for both sides by establishing a dialogue between phenomenology and Romantic poetry. To illustrate this, I will analyze Romantic poems that dramatize what we might call a “revolution of the mind” that aims to discover a currently “invisible” but more authentic experience of the role conscious perception plays in the constitution of our world. In considering Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Dejection: An Ode, Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound, and William Blake’s Jerusalem, we shall see that these poems depict such a revolution in terms that bear a close relationship to Edmund Husserl’s critique of the “natural attitude” and his turn to the phenomenological reduction so as to move past the errors that, he argues, this attitude involves. However, in considering both Jerusalem and Shelley’s Lift Not the Painted Veil, we shall also see the way in which these accounts of radical perceptual revolution often raise fears which may continue to haunt phenomenology as well. The conclusion then will pursue implications that the noticeably more active role these poems implicitly or explicitly assign to authentic perception has for both Romanticism and phenomenology.

Keywords

Furnace Huma Nity Galle Posit Cond 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Thomas McFarland also alludes to some basic agreements between Coleridge and Husserl. His analysis, however, focuses primarily on Coleridge’s prose and does not offer a reading of Dejection in light of phenomenology. See Thomas McFarland, Coleridge and the Pantheist Tradition (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969), pp. 142, 218, 236, 244, 379–380, etc.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ed. Ernest Hartley Coleridge (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1912), Vol. I, pp. 362–363.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ibid., p. 363.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ibid., p. 102.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Biographia Literaria, ed. H. L. Jackson (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985), p. 313.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, op. cit., p. 364.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Edmund Husserl, Ideas Pertaining to a Pure Phenomenology and to a Phenomenological Philosophy I, trans. F. Kersten (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1982), p. 114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 9.
    The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, op. cit., p. 365.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    Ibid., pp. 365–366.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    See, for example, J. Robert Barth, S.J.’s “oleridge’s Dejection: Imagination, Joy, and the Power of Love,” Coleridge’s Imagination, eds. Richard Gravil, Lucy Newlyn, and Nicholas Roe (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985), pp. 179–192; David Jasper’s Coleridge as Poet and Religious Thinker (Allison Park: Pickwick Publications, 1985), pp. 64-72; Raimond Modiano’s Coleridge and the Concept of Nature (Tallahassee: Florida State UP, 1985), pp. 60-63; and Harold Bloom’s The Visionary Company (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1971), p. 225.Google Scholar
  11. 12.
    For more comprehensive readings of Prometheus Unbound, see Carl Grabo’s Prometheus Unbound: An Interpretation (Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 1935); Earl Wasserman’s Shelleys Prometheus Unbound: A Critical Reading (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1965); and Gerald McNiece’s Shelley and the Revolutionary Idea (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1969), pp. 218-245, among others.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, ed. Donald Reiman and Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977), p. 194.Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977) Ibid., pp. 191–192.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977) Ibid., p. 194.Google Scholar
  15. 16.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977) Ibid., pp. 192–193.Google Scholar
  16. 17.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977) Ibid., p. 194.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977), p. 194 Ibid.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977) Ibid., p. 312.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    Sharon B. Powers (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1977), p. 194 Ibid.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Husserl, op. cit., p. 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 22.
    Some aspects of the reading I develop in this section were first developed in my doctoral dissertation, “William Blake’s Performative Prophecy” (Ph.D. diss., Auburn University, 1999).Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    William Blake, Jerusalem: The Emanation of the Giant Albion, ed. Morton D. Paley (London: Tate Gallery Publications, 1991), pp. 290–291.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Ibid., p. 291.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
  25. 26.
    Ibid., p. 292.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
  27. 28.
    Ibid., p. 294.Google Scholar
  28. 29.
  29. 30.
    Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology, trans. Dorion Cairns (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1964), p. 140.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jack Jacobs
    • 1
  1. 1.Auburn UniversityUSA

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