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Old 27th December 2011   #3
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Re: The Lessons of Civilisation

As 2011 draws to an end, this year's discussion threads will soon be closed. Before this happens, however, we though it worth coming back to this commentary on Kenneth Clark's landmark TV series, Civilisation.

We mentioned, in our original post, that Lord Clark's series provides a supplement for the television program The Romantic Spirit, covering all of the eras of Western culture which the Romanticism-specific series does not address. One could turn this premise around, of course, and state that The Romantic Spirit is a supplement to Civilisation, filling a lacuna in Clark's series, given that Clark was himself not a Romantic and that his coverage of the Romantic movement lacks the necessary brio.

Nevertheless, in at least one sense, Clark's treatment of Romanticism is spot on, and that is in his singling out of Ludwig van Beethoven and Lord Byron as "the two archetypal Romantic heroes." That he venerates these two figures speaks well of his scholarly insight, for Clark himself was anything but Byronic in temperament. Furthermore, the kind of Promethean Romanticism that both Byron and Beethoven represent was always more congenial to the continental Faustian disposition than to the more muted character of the English.

Lord Clark's introduction to Romanticism also effectively delineate its difference from its immediate aesthetic predecessor, Neoclassicism. Furthermore, Civilisation predates The Romantic Spirit by 13 years, so the latter program's memorable arch-Romantic visuals of rocky coastlines and pounding surf may well have been influenced by the similar, if less epic footage in Clark's series.

Here, then, for the benefit of those who have found this year's Romanticism-related discussions interesting, is a second excerpt from Civilisation, this one presenting Clark's commentary on the two greatest arch-Romantics, Beethoven and Lord Byron. Note in particular the host's substantial remarks on the Sublime, from 10:50 onwards.

- See also: The Romantic Spirit.
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