Enlightenment, Revolution, and Melancholy

Authored by: Asko Nivala

The Routledge Companion to Cultural History in the Western World

Print publication date:  September  2020
Online publication date:  September  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138649460
eBook ISBN: 9781003080206
Adobe ISBN:


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The chapter concentrates on the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and analyses the ambiguous project of the Enlightenment. The eighteenth century has often been depicted as an era of progress, when new scientific inventions were made and disseminated while the middle class gained more economic and political influence. The 1750s was a turning point, however, after which European intellectual history started to show darker shades and a new sceptical attitude to progress arose. At the end of the century, the Great Revolution of France brought a wave of unrest, wars, and, finally, harsh manifestations of political terror. The chapter explores the heritage of the era of revolutions and its impact on the future.

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