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According to A Dictionary of Literary Terms by J. A. Cuddon 'the word romantic(ism) has a complex and interesting history. In the Middle Ages 'romance' denoted the new vernacular languages derived from Latin… the work produced was then called romanz, roman, romanzo and romance. A roman or romant come to be known as an imaginative work and a 'courtly romance'… By the 17th c., in England and France, 'romance' had acquired the derogatory connotations of fanciful, bizarre, exaggerated, and chimerical. In France a distinction was made between Romanesque (also derogatory) and romantique (which meant 'tender', 'gentle', 'sentimental', and 'sad'). It was used in the English form in these latter senses in the 18th c.' (Cuddon, 1979, 587) Giving an exact definition to the word romanticism is rather difficult as it has many meanings and connotations throughout ages. However, it is quite useful to distinguish it from romance and the meanings that the word carries in the Middle Ages. Romance in the Middle Ages was a literary genre dealt with 'legendary, Supernatural, or amorous subjects and characters… later the term was applied to knights, chivalry, and courtly love. The romance and the epic are similar forms, but epic tends to be longer and less concerned with courtly love. (Encarta, 2008) Yet, romanticism is 'a literary movement… which took place in Britain and through Europe roughly between 1770 and 1848.' (Drabble, 1985) so it has little to do with romance that was used in the Middle Ages. Moreover, romanticism 'intellectually it marked a violent reaction to the Enlightment. Politically it was inspired by the revolutions in America and France… emotionally it expressed an extreme assertion of the self and the value of individual experience… the stylistic keynote of romanticism is intensity and its watchword is Imagination' (Ibid)


Politically. and those who did not. Young's Wight Thoughts (1742-5). Blair's The Grave (1743)' (Cuddon. especially in England since 'many hold to the theory that it was in England that the romantic movement really started. in addition to the 'Thomson's seasons (1726-30).' (Carter & McRae. romantic period is marked by a great and huge economical.' (Ibid) on the other hand. the first publication of the Lyrical Ballads in 1798 by Coleridge and Wordsworth represented a significant and historical development towards romanticism.2 Changes in the Romantic Period 'The romantic period was an era in which a literary revolution took place along side social and economic revolutions. Thus. Acute poverty followed. the social structure of the society had changed and new classes appeared which mainly consist of those who owned the property and land. 1998. 'English influence travelled to the continent. social. 588) and many other writers. 587) This in fact has reasons as why the Romantic Movement first started in England. However. Above all. and political changes in Europe which brought about changes in literary style and theme in 18th century. In some histories of literature the romantic period is called the Age of Revolution. 217) in this way.' (Cuddon. 2008) which transformed agricultural economies into the industrial one. the movement influenced by the France revolution and their philosophers especially Rousseau who is a 'major figure in the 18th century and 2 . the industrial revolution changed the whole landscape of the country and 'workers in the rural areas could no longer graze the animals on which they partly depended for good and income. 1998. one has to consider the fact that the industry revolution 'began in Britain in the 18th century' (Encarta.' (Carter & McRae. 1979.1. 218) That is. 1979.

moreover. The neo-classical writers alluded to the classical Greece especially Augustan Rome and also bible while the romantics alluded to the mythic. but 3 . introspection.his influence in the pre-romantic period was immense. radical transformation. greed. restraint. the romantics emphasized on rural and country side.' ( Ibid. 1998. language. but grew out of Augustanism. and power. while in the romantic period. writers stressed on emotion. This new point of view and recognition embody in the literature of the romantic period. The values of the neo-classical age are absolute. and universal. and wit as far as equality of poetry is concerned. the revolution brought new problems and it paved the way to the emergence of a new understanding and perspective to life so far as literature is concerned. and history. 1979. balance. This analogy is useful since some critics believe that 'romanticism was not a sudden.' (Cuddon. passion. 222) In neo-classical period writers paid more attention to decorum.3 Characteristics of Romanticism It is intriguing to know that literature in the romantic age is often contrasted with the neo-classical or Augustan age in its qualities.' (Carter & McRae. irregularity. sublimity. spiritual. regularity. public and rational. the medieval. ideas of nature. while in the romantic age the values are private. 'political movements in Britain were gradual. 1. 218) The industrial revolution brought about not only changes in economies but also the whole system of life in the society. 588) but unlike France and the United States. and the city is seen as the place for corruption. concision. settings. allusions. Language is regarded as a dress of thought (Pope) by the neo-classicalists and they paid attention to decorum and propriety. spontaneity. values. Neo-classical writers made use of urban life as the setting of their writings and they looked at the rural either as pastoral (idealized) or as ignorant and unmannerly. reason. and picturesque. and the gothic. On the other hand.

However. 4 . 'Nature' in Romanic age. They carefully and objectively expressed nature. which is quite useful to understand the literature in the Romantic period. Romantic literature is generally more critical of society and its injustices. from this analogy the characteristics of the Romantic age are presented equally with that of neoclassicalists. in neo-classical period. refers firstly to the external world in its beauty and powers. and senses of what constitutes moral life follow upon their understanding of nature. exploring rather than defining. However. these two ages are the opposite of each other. Romantic writers celebrate the freedom of nature and of individual human experience. 'The classical writers looks outward to society. Most qualities of poetry. and generally the features of the romantic period and their writings are sharply contrasted with the neo-classists. the Classical writer is attracted to a social order in which everyone knows their place. In fact. 221) To sum up. the writings of Augustan age stress the way societies improve under careful regulation. That is.e. the Classical writer concentrates on can be logically measured and rationally understood.' (Carter & McRae. they follow inner feelings. they subjectively looked at nature and the feelings of a main character in the work changes the way nature is seen i. but what is important is how other people feel it. their feelings are not important. 1998. questioning rather than affirming. and then as an expression of the power of being which flows through and unites all things. Romantic writers look inward to their own soul and to the life of imagination. that is.language to the romantics has a creative power and they paid attention to the evocative and beautiful. Romantic writers are attracted to the irrational mystical and supernatural world.

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