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The romantic movement during the romantic period in europe and america

Introduction to Romanticism Romanticism has very little to do with things popularly thought of as "romantic," although love may occasionally be the subject of Romantic art. Rather, it is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world.

Historical Considerations It is one of the curiosities of literary history that the strongholds of the Romantic Movement were England and Germany, not the countries of the romance languages themselves. Thus it is from the historians of English and German literature that we inherit the convenient set of terminal dates for the Romantic period, beginning inthe year of the first edition of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge and of the composition of Hymns to the Night by Novalis, and ending inthe year which marked the deaths of both Sir Walter Scott and Goethe.

However, as an international movement affecting all the arts, Romanticism begins at least in the 's and continues into the second half of the nineteenth century, later for American literature than for European, and later in some of the arts, like music and painting, than in literature.

This extended chronological spectrum also permits recognition as Romantic the poetry of Robert Burns and William Blake in England, the early writings of Goethe and Schiller in Germany, and the great period of influence for Rousseau's writings throughout Europe.

The early Romantic period thus coincides with what is often called the "age of revolutions"--including, of course, the American and the French revolutions--an age of upheavals in political, economic, and social traditions, the age which witnessed the initial transformations of the Industrial Revolution. A revolutionary energy was also at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform not only the theory and practice of poetry and all artbut the very way we perceive the world.

  • When this emphasis was applied to the creation of poetry, a very important shift of focus occurred;
  • In addition, neoclassicism had prescribed for art the idea that the general or universal characteristics of human behavior were more suitable subject matter than the peculiarly individual manifestations of human activity;
  • Select Bibliography Dyer, Gary;
  • The following definitions are pulled from literary contexts and for the purposes of this web site are merely a jumping point for further discussion;
  • But children, however naturally good and innocent they begin, must grow up in a corrupt world; and the longer they live in, and the more experiences they acquire from living in, the corrupted adult world of so-called "civilization," the more corrupted they themselves become.

Some of its major precepts have survived into the twentieth century and still affect our contemporary period. Imagination The imagination was elevated to a position as the supreme faculty of the mind.

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This contrasted distinctly with the traditional arguments for the supremacy of reason. The Romantics tended to define and to present the imagination as our ultimate "shaping" or creative power, the approximate human equivalent of the creative powers of nature or even deity.

It is dynamic, an active, rather than passive power, with many functions. Imagination is the primary faculty for creating all art. On a broader scale, it is also the faculty that helps humans to constitute reality, for as Wordsworth suggestedwe not only perceive the world around us, but also in part create it.

  1. British Satire and the Politics of Style, 1789-1832. Reacting against negative views of human nature as innately selfish with a self-serving "drive for power and status" that dominated 17th century and early 18th century thought, other moral philosophies arose asserting that "benevolence," or "wishing other persons well," "is an innate human sentiment and motive, and that central aspects of the moral experience are the feelings of sympathy and 'sensibility'--that is, a hair-trigger responsiveness to another person's distresses and joys.
  2. The fashion of novels of sensibility declined by the end of the 18th century. In poetry, the heroic couplet was the most popular verse form.
  3. Please keep in mind that the term "Romanticism" has been used in varying contexts and has come to mean different things to different people.
  4. Courtesy of the trustees of the Tate, London; photographs, G. This site was made with the support of the University of Tennessee Department of English.

Uniting both reason and feeling Coleridge described it with the paradoxical phrase, "intellectual intuition"imagination is extolled as the ultimate synthesizing faculty, enabling humans to reconcile differences and opposites in the world of appearance. The reconciliation of opposites is a central ideal for the Romantics. Finally, imagination is inextricably bound up with the other two major concepts, for it is presumed to be the faculty which enables us to "read" nature as a system of symbols.

Nature "Nature" meant many things to the Romantics. As suggested above, it was often presented as itself a work of art, constructed by a divine imagination, in emblematic language. For example, throughout "Song of Myself," Whitman makes a practice of presenting commonplace items in nature--"ants," "heap'd stones," and "poke-weed"--as containing divine elements, and he refers to the "grass" as a natural "hieroglyphic," "the handkerchief of the Lord.

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It was viewed as "organic," rather than, as in the scientific or rationalist view, as a system of "mechanical" laws, for Romanticism displaced the rationalist view of the universe as a machine e. At the same time, Romantics gave greater attention both to describing natural phenomena accurately and to capturing "sensuous nuance"--and this is as true of Romantic landscape painting as of Romantic nature poetry.

Accuracy of observation, however, was not sought for its own sake. Romantic nature poetry is essentially a poetry of meditation.

Symbolism and Myth Symbolism and myth were given great prominence in the Romantic conception of art. In the Romantic view, symbols were the human aesthetic correlatives of nature's emblematic language.

Romanticism

They were valued too because they could simultaneously suggest many things, and were thus thought superior to the one-to-one communications of allegory. Partly, it may have been the desire to express the "inexpressible"--the infinite--through the available resources of language that led to symbol at one level and myth as symbolic narrative at another. Emotion, Lyric Poetry, and the Self Other aspects of Romanticism were intertwined with the above three concepts.

Emphasis on the activity of the imagination was accompanied by greater emphasis on the importance of intuition, instincts, and feelings, and Romantics generally called for greater attention to the emotions as a necessary supplement to purely logical reason. When this emphasis was applied to the creation of poetry, a very important shift of focus occurred. Wordsworth's definition of all good poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings" marks a turning point in literary history.

  • The "vogue of 'natural' poetry written by supposedly uneducated peasants or working folk" Abrams 170; emphasis added;
  • It was viewed as "organic," rather than, as in the scientific or rationalist view, as a system of "mechanical" laws, for Romanticism displaced the rationalist view of the universe as a machine e;
  • The American Scholar A;
  • In the Romantic view, symbols were the human aesthetic correlatives of nature's emblematic language;
  • Accuracy of observation, however, was not sought for its own sake;
  • The Romantics tended to define and to present the imagination as our ultimate "shaping" or creative power, the approximate human equivalent of the creative powers of nature or even deity.

By locating the ultimate source of poetry in the individual artist, the tradition, stretching back to the ancients, of valuing art primarily for its ability to imitate human life that is, for its mimetic qualities was reversed. In Romantic theory, art was valuable not so much as a mirror of the external world, but as a source of illumination of the world within. Among other things, this led to a prominence for first-person lyric poetry never accorded it in any previous period.

The "poetic speaker" became less a persona and more the direct person of the poet. Wordsworth's Prelude and Whitman's "Song of Myself" are both paradigms of successful experiments to take the growth of the poet's mind the development of self as subject for an "epic" enterprise made up of lyric components. Confessional prose narratives such as Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther and Chateaubriand's Reneas well as disguised autobiographical verse narratives such as Byron's Childe Haroldare related phenomena.

  1. The "vogue of 'natural' poetry written by supposedly uneducated peasants or working folk" Abrams ; emphasis added. The reputation of William Shakespeare began to soar in this era, in part because of Primitivist myths that he was a popular, untutored, rule-breaking, original genius.
  2. The idea of a vanished "golden age," variously identified as a "lost Garden of Eden" or the "era of classical Greece" located in humanity's distant past when people "lived naturally, simply, and freely" in a happy, innocent "state of nature" "before society and civilization had even begun," while certainly not a new idea, gained prominence in the 18th century Abrams, , ; emphasis added.
  3. Reacting against negative views of human nature as innately selfish with a self-serving "drive for power and status" that dominated 17th century and early 18th century thought, other moral philosophies arose asserting that "benevolence," or "wishing other persons well," "is an innate human sentiment and motive, and that central aspects of the moral experience are the feelings of sympathy and 'sensibility'--that is, a hair-trigger responsiveness to another person's distresses and joys.
  4. Historical Considerations It is one of the curiosities of literary history that the strongholds of the Romantic Movement were England and Germany, not the countries of the romance languages themselves. The interior journey and the development of the self recurred everywhere as subject material for the Romantic artist.

The interior journey and the development of the self recurred everywhere as subject material for the Romantic artist. The artist-as-hero is a specifically Romantic type. Contrasts With Neoclassicism Consequently, the Romantics sought to define their goals through systematic contrast with the norms of "Versailles neoclassicism.

We have already noted two major differences: In addition, neoclassicism had prescribed for art the idea that the general or universal characteristics of human behavior were more suitable subject matter than the peculiarly individual manifestations of human activity.

From at least the opening statement of Rousseau's Confessions, first published in "I am not made like anyone I have seen; I dare believe that I am not made like anyone in existence.

If I am not superior, at least I am different.