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Magnificent Rebels : The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self - Andrea Wulf

Magnificent Rebels

The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self

By: Andrea Wulf

Paperback | 8 August 2023 | Edition Number 1

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From the Costa Prize-winning author of The Invention of Nature, Magnificent Rebels is a riveting, eye-opening biography of the first Romantics: a revolutionary group of friends based in the small German town of Jena whose modern ideas transformed society and the way we lead our lives today

In the 1790s an extraordinary group of friends changed the world. Disappointed by the French Revolution's rapid collapse into tyranny, what they wanted was nothing less than a revolution of the mind. The rulers of Europe had ordered their peoples how to think and act for too long. Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics.

Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being. We're still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet. This extraordinary group of friends changed our world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.

About the Author

Andrea Wulf was born in India, moved to Germany as a child, and now lives in England. She is the author of several acclaimed books, including the Costa prize-winning biography of Alexander Humboldt, The Invention of Nature. The Brother Gardeners won the American Horticultural Society Book Award and was long-listed for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Her book Founding Gardeners was on the New York Times bestseller list. Andrea has written for many newspapers including the Guardian, LA Times and New York Times. She was the Eccles British Library Writer in Residence 2013 and a three-time fellow of the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. She appears regularly on TV and radio.
Industry Reviews
'This is indeed an electrifying book, in its illuminated portraits, its dynamic narrative and its sparking ideas' - Observer

'A witty, gossipy, sparkling history, full of bright jewels of anecdote... Magnificent Rebels is a triumph' - The Times

'Magnificent Rebels is a thrilling intellectual history that reads more like a racy but intelligent novel or even a very superior soap opera where the characters are almost all oddballs, but geniuses' - Sunday Times

An ambitious, engaging and effusive account... a considerable achievement - Times Literary Supplement

'Magnificent Rebels is a magnificent book: a revelation which could easily become an obsession' - Spectator

In a gripping account of what she calls the "Jena Set" (which was intellectually and emotionally as complex as the Bloomsbury Group), Wulf brings the dramatis personae compellingly to life - Financial Times

Andrea Wulf is that rare historian who makes the past feel present and turns distant lives into gripping stories of the human heart. Magnificent Rebels is a magnificent book: mesmerising, heartbreaking and incredibly timely, it is an important reminder that the desire to be true to oneself transcends time and borders

This is a magnificent book, fascinating in its focus and breathtaking in its scope and sweep. It is a work of formidable scholarship worn lightly; of complex intellectual history told evocatively, absorbingly, compellingly. Wulf's superb prose draws us deeply into the lives and minds of this remarkable circle of people, who together explored the breathtaking possibilities - and tremendous risks - of free will, individual creativity and liberty

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