Since the beginning of its academic study around 1870, Romanticism has been defined simultaneously as a historical period (chronologically restricted) and as a stylistic type (chronologically open). This paradox, consisting in the difficulty of reconciling historical temporality with the systematization of knowledge, can be traced back to the “temporalization” of history in the second half of the eighteenth century, when transhistorical aesthetic classification was destabilized and literary history developed as a distinct critical practice. But the troubled historical consciousness manifested in aesthetic theory of the time — nostalgia for an irrecoverable past — also expressed itself artistically in forms at once engaged with and detached from history, notably stylistic simulacra of the past and, in poetry, failed or ironized revivals of the classical gods.

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