Annette sighs. Manfred's been upgrading this robot cat for years, and his ex-wife Pamela used to mess with its neural configuration, too: This is its third body, and it's getting more realistically uncooperative with every hardware upgrade. Sooner or later it's going to demand a litter tray and start throwing up on the carpet.
The nineteenth century was the Age of Romanticism; for the first time in history, man stopped thinking of himself as an animal or a slave, and saw himself as a potential god. All of the cries of revolt against 'God' - De Sade, Byron's "Manfred", Schiller's "Robbers", Goethe's "Faust", Hoffmann's mad geniuses - are expressions of this new spirit. Is this why the 'spirits' decided to make a planned and consistent effort at 'communication'? It was the right moment. Man was beginning to understand himself.
Ivanov: No, my clever young thing, it's not a question of romance. I say as before God that I will endure everything - depression and mental illness and ruin and the loss of my wife and premature old age and loneliness - but I cannot tolerate, cannot endure being ridiculous in my own eyes. I'm dying of shame at the thought that I, a healthy, strong man, have turned into some sort of Hamlet or Manfred, some sort of 'superfluous man'... devil knows precisely what! There are pitiful people who are flattered by being called Hamlet or superfluous men, but for me it's a disgrace! It stirs up my pride, I'm overcome by shame and I suffer...
The Romantic journey was usually a solitary one. Although the Romantic poets were closely connected with one another, and some collaborated in their work, they each had a strong individual vision. Romantic poets could not continue their quests for long or sustain their vision into later life. The power of the imagination and of inspiration did not last. Whereas earlier poets had patrons who financed their writing, the tradition of patronage was not extensive in the Romantic period and poets often lacked financial and other support. Keats, Shelley and Byron all died in solitary exile from England at a young age, their work left incomplete, non-conformists to the end. This coincides with the characteristic Romantic images of the solitary heroic individual, the spiritual outcast 'alone, alone, all, all alone' like Coleridge's Ancient Mariner and John Clare's 'I'; like Shelley's Alastor, Keats's Endymion, or Byron's Manfred, who reached beyond the normal social codes and normal human limits so that 'his aspirations/Have been beyond the dwellers of the earth'. Wordsworth, who lived to be an old man, wrote poems throughout his life in which his poetic vision is stimulated by a single figure or object set against a natural background. Even his projected final masterpiece was entitled The Recluse. The solitary journey of the Romantic poet was taken up by many Victorian and twentieth-century poets, becoming almost an emblem of the individual's search for identity in an ever more confused and confusing world.