I promised in my post on “Footsteps” that I would explore my collection of Romantic books in a later post, and so here goes! Wikipedia describes the Romantic Movement as “an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to 1850”, and in my mind it covers quite a range of authors, demonstrated by the picture of my loose ‘collection’ below:

A selection of my Romantics collection

As you can see, Mary Wollstoncraft and Mary Shelley are well represented – and yes, I know there are some duplicate copies of certain works but this is usually because different editions have varying contents and there were items I wanted in both. A case in point is the Wollstonecrafts – “A Short Residence in Sweden” and “Letters written in Sweden, Norway and Denmark” are I think the same; but the Penguin has the full text of Godwin’s “Memoirs of the Author of ‘The Rights of Women'”, whereas the OWC has only extracts. Conversely the OWC has Wollstonecraft’s letters to Gilbert Imlay plus other supporting material – so of course I need both copies. Other duplicates, like “Mary”, are the result of inheriting books from various Offspring’s study times – and I do find it hard to part with them!

There’s also plenty of poetry in the form of Coleridge, Keats, Blake, Byron and Shelley; and in the case of the latter, the panic I experienced when rummaging in the stacks (which I mentioned in my previous post) was the result of finding out that a. I had no collection of Shelley’s poetry, and b. I seemed to have donated my copy of “Zastrozzi and St. Irvyne”.  Cue a panicky online order for books, and as you can see I now have a lovely little Everyman Poetry Library edition of Shelley’s poetry. However, as the replacement “Zastrozzi…” arrived I happened to be gathering the books for the above photo – and of course, there was my original, on the shelf where it should have been with all my other Romantics… How does that happen???

Double Shelley!

So I now have two copies and the dilemma of whether to keep both, or donate one, and if so which one to keep – the replacement *is* a nicer condition copy, but of course the original has sentimental value as I’ve had it since my 20s…

However, in the pile are two volumes I’ve had for even longer! I think I’ve recounted on the blog before that when I was growing up there was a very rambling second-hand bookshop in the small town where I lived. My battered old copies of Sherlock Holmes stories came from there, and also these two little volumes of Keats and Byron:

Byron and Keats

What I was thinking of in buying them when I was in my early teens I don’t know, as I was mainly reading “The Lord of the Rings”, Agatha Christie, Ed McBain and my mother’s historical romances. But I imagine I thought they were literary and classic and also old and cute. So I’ve carried them round with me ever since and they sit very happily in my Romantics collection. I think there was a modern Byron collection in the house once, but I can’t lay hands on it right now…

And whilst I was shuffling the piles, I came across this, which I picked up within the last couple of years and promptly forgot about:

I’ve read another Christiansen book which I thought was excellent, and since this has a recommendation from Peter Ackroyd on the back I may have to pick it up soon. The Ackroyd connection is relevant as, spurred on by my reading of “Footsteps”, I spend some happy time recently revisiting Ackroyd’s 2006 documentary series “The Romantics” and it was just as great as I remembered it.

Ackroyd and some of his ‘ghosts’ c. BBC

Unhappily, the series is not available on the iPlayer, but can be found fairly easily online to watch. I found it mesmerising (apart from the over-use of music, a common complaint with documentaries to this day); and the effect of Ackroyd conjuring up the ghosts of the Romantics, portrayed by actors, is very powerful. Track it down if you can!

The image at the top of this post doesn’t, of course, represent every Romantic related book I own – there are plenty in translation which would qualify, e.g. all the Rousseau scattered about the house, and quite a number of my Penguin Great Ideas books. But these were what was to hand and I need to find a nice shelf for them to nestle on, and perhaps go off on a bit of a Romantic tangent…

The other author covered in “Footsteps” was, of course, Gerard de Nerval; he’s regarded as a poet of French Romanticism, but I don’t know if he was particularly grouped with any movement. I have two Nerval books, which are these:

“Selected Writings” is a relatively recent arrival, prompted I think by Anthony at Time’s Flow Stemmed. However, “The Chimeras” is a book I’ve again had since my 20s and have carried with me over the years; and reading the blurb at the front of “Footsteps” revealed a surprising fact! I said in my review of Holmes’s book that I had thought his name was new to me; however, it actually isn’t…

Two Holmes books!!

I’ve owned both of these books for some time, and fascinatingly, both are connected with Richard Holmes! “The Chimeras” was published in 1984 by Anvil Press Poetry; the poems are translated by Peter Jay and the book has an essay by Holmes. And the Wollstonecraft/Godwin volume came out in 1987 and was edited by Holmes with his introduction and notes. So both of these books were in my possession for decades, yet I had no idea what a respected biographer Holmes had become! Just goes to show, really, you should always hang on to your books…. ;D

Anyway, that’s probably enough of the Romantics for now on the blog. There is a late arrival to be added here which I’d sent away for after the images above were taken; Hazlitt is someone new to me I’m keen to explore. The Hume was found lurking in the TBR – he *can* be considered a Romantic, surely?

Of course all of this ties in with all of my French Revolution reading and books, which could quite happily occupy another post. I *am* sorely tempted to go off down a Romantic rabbit hole, but am trying to resist as there are so many other books vying for my attention. But I *could* sneak a couple in, I’m sure! 😀