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Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845$
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Porscha Fermanis and John Regan

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687084

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687084.001.0001

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Historicism, Temporalization, and Romantic Prophecy in Percy Shelley’s Hellas

Historicism, Temporalization, and Romantic Prophecy in Percy Shelley’s Hellas

(p.144) 6 Historicism, Temporalization, and Romantic Prophecy in Percy Shelley’s Hellas
Rethinking British Romantic History, 1770–1845

Christopher Bundock

Oxford University Press

Using Reinhart Koselleck’s twin concepts of ‘space of experience’ and ‘horizon of expectations’, and drawing simultaneously on Maurice Blanchot’s understanding of prophecy as a prediction of the radically unexpected, this chapter reads the Romantic period’s obsession with prophecy symptomatically; i.e. as indicating a broad and intense discontinuity in historical experience. It argues that Shelley’s Hellas represents a decisive displacement of prophecy (in its predictive sense) by obscuring the future’s eventual shape while simultaneously affirming futurity, thus undermining historical continuity and dialectical progressivism, and revealing a new and modern concept of historical futurity or how the future might form or be. The chapter concludes that Hellas says more about historicization as an activity than about history as something objectively present, incorporating into its representation of historical experience meta-historical reflections on the possibilities for writing history in the era of Romantic temporalization.

Keywords:   Koselleck, Blanchot, Shelley, Hellas, prophecy, prediction, futurity, temporalization, historicism, meta-history

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