RaveThe Times Literary Supplement (UK)... ambitious, engaging and effusive ... Wulf is excellent at this kind of descriptive prose, evoking the sights and sounds of the city with an almost classical enargia. We feel the excitement of living through the period alongside her vivid characters ... The tension between \'classical\' and \'romantic\' aesthetics, central though it was to the period, is underarticulated in Wulf’s telling ... Such intellectual absences are a function of her concentration on group biography. The work that the Jena Set produced – the reason we remember them, after all – sometimes comes across as an afterthought, a brief addendum to the main business of living together and falling out ... Wulf’s book reads as much like a novel as an intellectual biography. She is an expert at compressing her sources – letters, diaries, journals – into the kind of prose we recognize from nineteenth- century realism, complete with free indirect discourse ... This is fair enough – the sources are meticulously documented – but it raises the question of whether Wulf retains sufficient critical distance. Perhaps, in the end, her subjectivity is only too apt. Novalis suggested to Caroline Schlegel that they should turn their lives into a novel, and Andrea Wulf has taken up the challenge – not in the sense that Magnificent Rebels is made up, but in the sense that she imagines the lives of the Jena Set from the inside out. It is a considerable achievement.