Romanticism focused upon the feeling subject. That subject opened itself first of all to nature, which served as a laboratory of sensation. Society was all but absent. Romanticism was famously solipsistic. Frequently, the next object for the Romantic was the feeling artist himself, the structure of whose sensing apparatus often proved homomorphic to that of the natural universe.

These general observations are occasioned by some recent productions of plays that stand toward the beginning and toward the end of Romanticism in the theater. The Jean Cocteau Repertory at the Bouwerie Lane Theater in New York staged a double bill of Leonce and Lena and Woyzeck by Georg Büchner (both c. 1836) and put on Ibsen’s last play, When We Dead Awaken (1899). Also, the American Repertory Theatre at the Loeb in Cambridge mounted a version of When We Dead Awaken.

It...

 
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