French Literature, Thought and Culture in the Nineteenth by Brian Rigby (eds.)

By Brian Rigby (eds.)

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See D. G. ), The French Romantics (Cambridge: Cam- bridge University Press, 1984) 2 vols. See Nicholas Green, The Spectacle of Nature: lAndscape and Bourgeois Culture in Nineteenth-century France (Manchester and New York: Manchester University Press, 1990). Godefroy Cavaignac, 'Introduction' to Paris rtuolutionnaire (Paris: Pagnerre, 1848) p. 36. Cf. Pierre Leroux, 'Aux Philosophes. -Dec. 1831) p. 402. See Arthur O. : Harvard University Press, 1936). See Judith E. Schlanger, Les Mttaphores de l'organisme (Paris:Vrln, 1971).

25 The self-preoccupied artist filled Nature with private meanings but a purely personal vision was ultimately unsatisfactory. The plenitude of meaning was hollow for it concealed a deeper and subtler surrender to externality and contingency. At best it testified to the gravity of the present crisis by revealing the obsessive but empty inwardness of the Romantic self. At worst it impeded the advent of harmony, hindered the return of the Idea into itself, slowed the transformation of the natural into the civic.

It reflects the fact that an eclectic spiritualism was the dominant philosophical framework in France throughout the century and beyond, and that Victor Cousin was the person who did most to establish its dominance. He achieved this in two ways. First, with intelligence, vigour and even courage, he carried through Royer-Collard's strategic aim of constituting a new philosophical consensus, with a new canon, drawn from the best available sources elsewhere in Europe or in classical Antiquity. And second, with determination and skill, he ensured that the new philosophical understanding was comprehensively, and as far as possible, irreversibly implemented wherever his writ ran.

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