2004
Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1384-5829
  • E-ISSN: 2352-118X

Abstract

At the end of the eighteenth century, Western society and culture underwent a radical change, and, as Reinhart Koselleck argued, so did the meanings of political and ideological concepts. More recently, theorists such as François Hartog have linked this shift to a changing attitude towards the past, or the regime of historicity: from a continuity between past and present (ancien regime) to a discontinuity, a break between past and present (modern regime). Historians Peter Fritzsche and Frank Ankersmit have (independently) linked the historical experience of this break to paradoxical feelings of longing for something that has been irretrievably lost (melancholy, nostalgia, the sublime). In this paper, I will suggest that the close reading method of Begriffsgeschichte can contribute to an understanding of how this shift from the ancien regime to a modern regime is, in itself, full of paradoxes: the regimes as such were not monolithic constructs, and the meanings of the concepts that they claimed to explain were not unambiguous. To illustrate this point with a case study, I will analyse the concept of ‘patriotism’ in the correspondence between Dutch poets Willem Bilderdijk and Rhynvis Feith following Bilderdijk’s revised edition of Onno Zwier van Haren’s epic De Geusen (1785), and in a play written by Feith in that same year. At that specific moment, the term ‘patriotic’ not only referred to love for one’s country, but also to a specific political faction, of which Feith was a member but which Bilderdijk ardently opposed.

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2012-10-01
2022-01-22
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  • Article Type: Research Article
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