The Radicalism of Shelley and Its Sources

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Published: 1912
Language: English
Wordcount: 50,206 / 159 pg
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 60.2
LoC Category: PR
Downloads: 415
Added to site: 2011.09.07
mnybks.net#: 30717
Excerpt

ture, the other clings too much to the past. There is constant warfare between the two for the mastery. In a progressive community neither of them is in the ascendant for any length of time. A period of radicalism is inevitably followed by one of conservatism and vice versa. The pendulum swings to one extreme and then back again to the other. As long as human nature will be what it is, our institutions will be defective, and change will be the order of the day. This no doubt results in progress, which Goethe has compared to a movement in a spiral direction.

This action and reaction is reflected in the literature of a nation. No matter what definition of literature we may accept, whether it be Newman's personal use of language, Swinburne's imagination and harmony, or Matthew Arnold's criticism of life, it will always be found that literature is a crystallization of the ideals of the age. This is true both of poetry and of prose. The poet is not an isolated individual. On the contrary, he is pec

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