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Post-Romantic Consciousness

Dickens to Plath

Post-Romantic Consciousness by John Beer
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Post-Romantic Consciousness follows on from Beer's study, Romantic Consciousness, discussing further questionings of human consciousness. As Darwinism gained ground, undermining Romantic modes of thought, questions concerning human consciousness remained. In Dickens, for example, the struggle between a consciously affectionate and benevolent view of the world and an unconscious attraction to the criminal and violent probably led eventually to his failure to complete his last novel. Similar contradictions produced the Society for Psychical Research, where it was hoped that scientific investigation of abnormal psychical experiences might produce further insights into human nature. F.W.H. Myers's postulation of a 'subliminal self' in all human beings suggested one solution, while William James and European thinkers such as Heidegger, Sartre and Havel explored further conceptions of Being. Romantic influence persisted, however: Virginia Woolf, with her 'moments of Being', and Lawrence's insistence on another level of consciousness in human beings were followed in time by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, demonstrating a dialectic between her multifarious 'modern' consciousness and his rooted, physical sense of Being.
Palgrave Macmillan; June 2003
217 pages; ISBN 9781403919311
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Title: Post-Romantic Consciousness
Author: John Beer