This chapter explores the Enlightenment in the 1790s. By 1790, the writings of the philosophes, new enlightened attitudes among the educated, and the expansion of secular space and time seemed like old stories, less compelling than the revolutionary events emanating from Philadelphia, Brussels, and Amsterdam, and most dramatically from Paris. During the 1790s, French, British, German, Dutch, Italian, and American intellectuals and sympathizers with both enlightened and revolutionary ideals had to come to terms with a revolution that veered off into the Terror and the rise of Napoleon, and then ended in 1815 with a profound reaction against its ideals. Although battered, the Enlightenment lived on, particularly among writers and intellectuals—often described as Romantics—whose psyches were shaped by the bold ideas of the eighteenth century.
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