A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind, by Rachel Hewitt

A Revolution of Feeling: The Decade that Forged the Modern Mind, by Rachel Hewitt

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In the 1790s, Britain underwent what the politician Edmund Burke called 'the most important of all revolutions...a revolution in sentiments'.

Inspired by the French Revolution, British radicals concocted new political worlds to enshrine healthier, more productive, human emotions and relationships.

The Enlightenment's wildest hopes crested in the utopian projects of such optimists - including the young poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and the philosophers William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft.

But by the middle of the decade, the wind had changed as the French Revolution descended into bloody Terror. In the space of one decade, feverish optimism gave way to bleak disappointment.

A Revolution of Feeling is a vivid and absorbing account of the dramatic end of the Enlightenment, the beginning of an emotional landscape preoccupied by guilt, sin, failure, resignation and repression, and the origins of our contemporary approach to feeling and desire.

Above all, it is the story of the human cost of political change, of men and women consigned to the 'wrong side of history'. But although their revolutionary proposals collapsed, that failure resulted in its own cultural revolution - a revolution of feeling - the aftershocks of which are felt to the present day.