Response: Mere Antiquarianism

The antiquarian project is based on the unbridgeable gap we know to divide the past from the present. The embarrassment it provokes is due in part to the necessary failure of all attempts to truly understand a lost era combining with the insight the attempt affords into the never fully dispassionate drives motivating the researches in the first place. The articles in this volume illustrate the ways in which Romantic antiquarianism exists at a point of transition between the speculative regimen of an earlier era and the emergence of the period of licensed scientific research and accreditation we still inhabit. As such they provide an opportunity for reflection on the passions underlying any manifestation of the desire to know, and on the gains and losses entailed in the emergence of an ostensibly dispassionate new scholarship.