PRE-ROMANTICISMO

ETYMOLOGIE / etymology ETUDE SEMANTIQUE / Definitions COMMENTAIRE / Analysis The term Romantic and its derivatives have been used in literary history since Madame de Stael's analysis «De la poésie classique et de la poésie romantique» in her De l'Allemagne (1810). Literary historians since the beginning of the present century have recognised that certain aspects of Romantic literature had been manifest prior to the so-called Romantic Revolution at the beginning of the nineteenth century: for example, E. Abry and his colleagues in their popular school-text, Histoire Illustrée de la Littérature Française (1912) write of «les Precurseurs du Romantisme,» and in his study of eighteenth-century English literature, The Peace of the Augustans (1916), George Saintsbury discusses the «earlier Romantic pioneers». Henry A. Beers published in 1898 A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century which, starting from his rather narrow definition of Romanticism as the «reproduction in modern art or literature of the life and thought of the Middle Ages,» provides a

The specific term «pre-romanticism» enters the critical vocabulary with P. Book IV of their survey is titled «The Pre-Romantic Period (1770 . I. the forgeries of James Macpherson (Ossian) and Thomas Chatterton. Le Préromantisme (Vol. and show how mediaevalism led to an increased interest in the mysterious -what could not fully be explained or understood. This in turn stimulated the appetite for the hallucinatory and supernatural which was satisfied by the Gothic novel of terror. Van Tieghem's influential study. and. more disreputably. In addition. 1924). Like Beers.98)»: their thesis is that after about 1760 a number of «symptoms and signs of a change tend to group themselves into an imposing whole». showing their close affinity to early nineteenthcentury literature. marked in Bishop Percy's collection of old ballads. «Pre-romantic» has been regularly used in academic writing in England since the appearance of Emile Legouis and Louis Cazamian's A History of English Literature (1927). Legouis and Cazamian note the growing influence of Methodism. he stressed the influence of Rousseau's La Nouvelle Héloïse in developing a sensibility that focusses on personal emotions and the melancholy isolation of the delicate-souled hero. and on the Gothic Revival in fiction and poetry.detailed comment on eighteenth-century imitations of Spenser and Milton. Its focus on the experience of the individual and its social consciousness helped to develop an increased . they stress the rediscovery of the mediaeval world.

particularly in lyric poetry. drama and fiction. The Mid-Eighteenth Century (1979). John Butt's authoritative contribution to the Oxford History of English Literature. Pierre Arnaud and Jean Raimond stress the intellectual. Certainly. implying an unfashionable concept of process and development in literature. avoids using «preromantic. and it is possible to chart a movement from the one to the other through the eighteenth century. In recent years.respect for human feelings and an increased interest in charting their precise dynamics.» and indeed rather pointedly bases its description of poetry from 1760 to 1789 on the continuing Augustan tradition of satirical verse. social and political ferment of the later eighteenth century. Critics in the mid-twentieth century tended to avoid the term «pre-romantic. the sensibilities of Wordsworth and Coleridge differ from those of Dryden and Pope. and recognise that writers responded by seeking new modes of expression. Poetry of natural description. and that transitional labels derived from them. such as «neoclassical» and «pre-romantic.» recognising that the validity of labels such as «Classical» and «Romantic» was doubtful. and uses recent critical theory to trace the pre-romanticism of its poetry.» were even more problematic. which in Pope is mainly a derivative of the . critics have revived the concept of a «preromantic» literature. Marshall Brown describes the «crisis of expression» in late-eighteenth-century Britain.

With short shrill shriek flits by on leathern wing. more concerned with catching the reality of experience. and the impact that this experience has on the observer. save where the weak-eyed bat. So Collins.» so writers valorise those societies they deem to be interestingly primitive: the mediaeval. in his Ode to Evening (1746)..» hails the «genial lov'd return» of evening: Now air is hushed. becomes. the Celtic. the Oriental and the barbarian. from Thomson's Winter (1726) onwards. licentious crowd. her mien and grace .classical pastoral. Or where the beetle winds His small but sullen horn. urban sophistication. Thomson's «Vile. Venus nor Hebe more complete. But in 1783 Edward Thompson describes The Indian Maid: A beauteous bronze she stands confessed. Pope patronisingly uses the «poor» American Indian as his model of human instinct in the dull-witted.. And when she moves. Just as nature is valorised by its contrast with the corrupt world of modern. «musing slow.

Prove her the goddess of the place ! (Roger Lonsdale. A growing belief in human benevolence and the power of positive goodness is marked as early as Richardson's Pamela (1740-41). and Gray and others laud the factitious sublimity of ancient Wales and Scotland. The topic is most obviously addressed in narrative genres.can be traced in the movement from the political involvement of Dryden to the willing isolation of William Cowper: . further developed in Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy (1760-67). Such perfectibility in humanity. The New Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse.from external impressions to an internal responses -. where Parson Adams is a triumphant example of militant virtue. points away from the embittered spleen of the Restoration satirists to the revolutionary hopefulness of Shelley. where the servant-girl's inflexible innocence converts the rakish Mr B. 1984.. The relocation of the source of powerful feelings -. and Fielding's Joseph Andrews (1742).) Collins writes Persian Eclogues (1742) to show the universality of simple human emotions. 669. p. but implicit in much contemporary poetry is the voice of the sensitive and good-natured poet. Henry Mackenzie's Man of Feeling (1771) and the sentimental drama of the later part of the century.

Of unsuccessful or successful war. poetic rather than the plain «language of men» that Wordsworth sought. (1785) In his 1801 «Essay Supplement to the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads». Mark Akenside and Oliver Goldsmith. But these writers cannot be called unrecognised Romantics: two major distinctions separate them from the first generation of Romantic poets. The same comment might be made of other poets from the later eighteenth century. much of it is written from himself. Some boundless contiguity of shade. and nobly from himself». William Shenstone. and their language is consciously. Where rumour of oppression and deceit. Their work is not marked by spontaneity or the appearance of spontaneity.Oh for a lodge in some vast wilderness. Wordsworth comments on Thomson's Winter that it is a «work of inspiration. . and conventionally. the 1789 collection of poems that is normally seen as the birth of Romantic poetry in England. such as Edward Young. May never reach me more. He is recognising the reliance on emotions engendered by the contemplation of the natural world which is so characteristic of his own best poetry.

They tend to use and amplify the vocabulary of poetic diction that Wordsworth criticised so roundly. carefully segregating the descriptive and the moral parts of their poems. unable to address it in their own voices. John Butt shrewdly notes that Chatterton and Macpherson were conscious of this new sensibility but. but an appropriate discourse has not yet been determined. were forced into pastiche and forgery. Still awaiting resolution is the problem of whether we should read these writers as prophetic voices of a new universe of poetry. or as individual writers of varying talents and genius resisting classification and wishing to be heard as themselves. emotionalism and cultural primitivism may be developed. Richard Morton McMaster University . as pallid descendants of a robust earlier age.They tend to follow the patterns of expository poetry developed on the model of Vergil's Georgics. as well as the rhetorical flourishes and the devices of personification that mark the self-consciousness of a Classical literature. Their more reputable contemporaries may similarly lack voices of their own to articulate their feelings as powerfully as their successors in the early nineteenth century. In the «pre-romantic» writers the sensibility of benevolence.

.A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth Century. Minski.. 1980..New York: Holt. Pierre Arnaud.. Rieder. 1898.Paris: F.Le préromantisme. étude d'histoire littéraire européene.. 1991.Le préromantisme.. Paul Van Tieghem. Marshall Brown.BIBLIOGRAPHIE / Bibliographie Henry A.. 1924-47. Alexander.Le préromantisme anglais.Armand Colin. Paul Van Tieghem..Paris: Nizet...Le sentiment de la nature dans le préromantisme européen.. 1998..Stanford: Stanford University Press. Beers. 1960.Preromanticism. 3 vols.Paris: Presses Universitaires de France. Jean Raimond.