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Sep 13
Tuesday 6-7 pm

Andrea Wulf Book Talk at Charleston Library Society

Date: September 13, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Andrea Wulf Launches Magnificent Rebels

 Tuesday, September 13, | 6:00- 7:00pm

Charleston Library Society

164 King Street, Charleston SC

Book Talk Followed by Signing Reception


We are thrilled to partner with Charleston Library Society to host an evening with Andrea Wulf. Wulf’s newest exhilarating book, Magnificent Rebels, paints the picture of a remarkable group of young rebels – poets, novelists, philosophers – who, through their epic quarrels, passionate love stories, heartbreaking grief, and radical ideas launched Romanticism onto the world stage, inspiring some of the greatest thinkers of the time. Their unconventional lives inspired radical ideas – about the creative power of the self, the aspirations of art and science, nature and the true meaning of freedom.


Tickets are $10 for CLS and Middleton Place Foundation members and $15 for guests.
To purchase tickets, click here or call 843-723-9912.

Book Reviews

“This witty, gossipy, sparkling history shows how the German city of Jena in the 1790s fizzed with creative energy. It was there that the first Romantics, led by the mighty Goethe, rebelled against the dreary rationalism of the Enlightenment” – The Times, Best Books of 2022

“With narrative verve buttressed by scrupulous research, Andrea Wulf has tracked this history in unfailingly lucid fashion … Avoiding metaphysical warrens and blind alleys, Wulf keeps a firm grasp on this broader historical context as well as the narrower intellectual controversies, but her primary interest is the personal interaction of a set of supremely intelligent men and women whose intense friendships and feuds, collaborations and affairs, can aptly be compared to that of the Bloomsbury Group or the Parisian modernists. … [Wulf’s] book has an irresistible panache marvellously appropriate to the story of these high-pitched personalities, and it is rich in telling anecdotes” – Daily Telegraph

“Wulf’s wonderful new book … Magnificent Rebels recreates the shining moment, between roughly 1794 and 1806, when these figures congregated in Jena  … In a gripping account of what she calls the “Jena Set” (which was intellectually and emotionally as complex as the Bloomsbury Group), Wulf brings the dramatis personae compellingly to life” – Financial Times

“A vivid portrait of the German coterie who launched Romanticism… Andrea Wulf’s Magnificent Rebels is an ambitious, engaging and effusive account … Wulf is excellent at this kind of descriptive prose, evoking the sights and smells of the city with an almost classical enargia. We feel the excitement of living through the period alongside her vivid characters … Wulf’s book reads as much like a novel as an intellectual biography … It is a considerable achievement” – Times Literary Supplement

“Magnificent Rebels is a thrilling intellectual history that reads more like a racy but intelligent novel or even a very superior soap opera where the characters are almost all oddballs, but geniuses … For a few short years, though, the little town of Jena blazed with a youthful, daring and intellectual creativity rarely matched elsewhere and Magnificent Rebels captures this brilliantly” – Sunday Times

“Engrossing new book … Magnificent Rebels is a magnificent book: a revelation which could easily become an obsession. Jena was a prototype of Silicon Valley, a factory in which a handful of geeks open up our skulls and rewire our brains. The Jena set invented the self, and in doing so invented us all; we now think with their thoughts and feel with their emotions.” – The Spectator

“Andrea Wulf’s delightful and invigorating book Magnificent Rebels — a worthy successor to her acclaimed study of von Humboldt, The Invention of Nature” …. “The secret of Wulf’s achievement is in the “notes” at the end of Magnificent Rebels, a great wedge of a section so thick it brings the reader to an unexpected halt two thirds of the way through the book’s bulk. Magnificent Rebels is a triumph of unseen toil, hardly suspected by the reader, in the midst of the sociable whirl of the main narrative. But all the time you realise Wulf has been sweating away out of sight, in the dim caverns of archives and the flickering, unvisited galleries of notes and appendices. Triumphantly, the book is not touched with one speck of archival dust, nor does it sag with any sign of exhaustion in the academic salt mines. The reader is simply presented with bright jewels of anecdote: Goethe lowering a piece of cake on a string from his study window to children playing below; Hegel dodging Napoleon’s invading soldiers to get the manuscript of The Phenomenology of the Spirit out of town. But above all the glitter of the parties, feuds and gossip that are so frequently inseparable from intellectual life” – Book of the Week, The Times

About the Book:
Magnificent Rebels. The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self
From the best-selling author of The Invention of Nature comes an exhilarating story about a remarkable group of rebels who changed the way we think about ourselves and the world. Forget Paris… the real Revolution in the 1790s happened in Jena, a quiet German university town where the unlikely revolutionaries were not soldiers or politicians but poets and playwrights (Goethe, Schiller and Novalis), philosophers (Fichte, Schelling and Hegel), literary critics (the contentious Schlegel brothers) and scientists (Alexander von Humboldt). And at their heart was the formidable and free-spirited Caroline Schlegel.

In Magnificent Rebels, Andrea Wulf takes us on a vivid journey through their adventures and misadventures, passionate love affairs and epic quarrels, successes and heartbreak. We are still empowered by their daring leap into the self today. The French revolutionaries may have changed the political landscape, but these young Romantics incited a revolution of the mind that shaped our modern world.

Author Andrea Wulf:
Andrea Wulf is the award-winning author of several books, including Founding Gardeners, Brother Gardeners, and the bestselling The Invention of Nature which is published in 27 languages and won a Costa for Biography, the Royal Society Award for Science and the LA Times Book Prize (and thirteen other international literary awards). Andrea has written for many newspapers, including the Guardian, New York Times, Financial Times, and The Atlantic. She is a member of PEN American Center and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She lives in London.

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