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ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529392777

Price: £25

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In the 1790s an extraordinary group of friends changed the world. Disappointed by the French Revolution’s rapid collapse into tyranny, what they wanted was nothing less than a revolution of the mind. The rulers of Europe had ordered their peoples how to think and act for too long. Based in the small German town of Jena, through poetry, drama, philosophy and science, they transformed the way we think about ourselves and the world around us. They were the first Romantics.

Their way of understanding the world still frames our lives and being.We’re still empowered by their daring leap into the self. We still think with their minds, see with their imagination and feel with their emotions. We also still walk the same tightrope between meaningful self-fulfilment and destructive narcissism, between the rights of the individual and our role as a member of our community and our responsibilities towards future generations who will inhabit this planet. This extraordinary group of friends changed our world. It is impossible to imagine our lives, thoughts and understanding without the foundation of their ground-breaking ideas.

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Reviews

Andrea Wulf is that rare historian who makes the past feel present and turns distant lives into gripping stories of the human heart. Magnificent Rebels is a magnificent book: mesmerising, heartbreaking and incredibly timely, it is an important reminder that the desire to be true to oneself transcends time and borders
AMANDA FOREMAN
This is a magnificent book, fascinating in its focus and breathtaking in its scope and sweep. It is a work of formidable scholarship worn lightly; of complex intellectual history told evocatively, absorbingly, compellingly. Wulf's superb prose draws us deeply into the lives and minds of this remarkable circle of people, who together explored the breathtaking possibilities - and tremendous risks - of free will, individual creativity and liberty
ROBERT MACFARLANE
The Jena Set was a group of philosophers, artists, and thinkers so earthquakingly brilliant that we feel the tremors that their ideas set off under our feet today. Nobody but Andrea Wulf, with her exquisite grasp of ideas and personalities, with her meticulous, sensitive and acutely observed prose, could make the reader feel as if they were in the room with them, bearing personal witness to their insights and their vanities and rages. Her storytelling had me immediately in her thrall
LAUREN GROFF, bestselling author of Matrix
Truly extraordinary, an intellectual history, group portrait, and elegy to Romanticism, which reads at times like a prizewinning novel. You feel you're there in turn-of-the-nineteenth-century Germany, experiencing the debates, disputations, and deep emotional interconnections between the most profound philosophers and greatest writers of the era, as they grapple with the birth of the modern
ANDREW ROBERTS
Thrumming with all the red-hot frenzy, wild passion and radical ideas of a free new world created out of poetry, sex and Romanticism, Magnificent Rebels, Andrea Wulf's superb group biography is elegantly written, deeply researched and totally gripping
SIMON SEBAG MONTEFIORE
A big, thrilling and constantly surprising book . . . Brilliantly orchestrating a mass of original letters, diaries, and archival documents, Wulf revives a whole world of intense friendships, shifting intellectual alliances, furious philosophical arguments, inspirational suppers (including the cooking), theatrical first nights, seductive carriage journeys, hypnotic candlelit lectures and, of course, non-stop love affairs and betrayals (including the ecstatic love-making and equally ecstatic rows) . . . It is a glorious piece of work, both thought-provoking and magical, and I loved it
RICHARD HOLMES
Magnificent Rebels is a beautiful group biography, celebrating the lives and loves of Germany's most brilliant minds: Goethe, Schiller, Fichte, Novalis, Schlegel, Schelling and Hegel. At the centre of their group in the small university town of Jena was a free-spirited, thrice married, single-mother named Caroline Michaelis-Böhmer-Schlegel-Schelling. She carried her father's and husbands' names but her life was entirely her own. Caroline is Andrea Wulf's soulmate. This is a perfect pairing of author and subject - a joyful, life-affirming, freedom-loving tour de force
RUTH SCURR, author of Napoleon: A Life Told in Gardens and Shadows