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Romanticism: Late 18th, early 19th century. But: Romantic writers in England did not call themselves “Romantic” Genesis of the term: “romance” (18th c England: negative connotation) Clara Reeves, The Progress of Romance (1785) “The Romance is a heroic fable, which treats of fabulous persons and things. -- The Novel is a picture of real life and manners, and of the times in which it is written. The Romance in lofty and elevated language, describes what never happened nor is likely to happen.” -> the “gothic”: Horace Walpole: The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic Story (1764, 1765) “desirous of leaving the powers of the fancy at liberty to expiate through the boundless realms of invention, and thence of creating more interesting situations, I wished to conduct the mortal agents in the drama according to the rules of probability; in short, to make them think, speak, and act, as it might be supposed mere men and women would do in extraordinary positions” (Horace Walpole, “Preface” to the 2d edition of The Castle of Otranto, a Gothic Story) Supposed to be more inventive and interesting than the dull adherence to common life, which is proper to 18th century novels. Characteristics of the gothic: exotic settings, fascination for the past, particularly the medieval era, fascination with the supernatural (supernatural agency often guides the plot), representations of fear and horror, liking for the eccentric, including sexual perversions (incest, rape, etc) emphasis on the emotional rather than the rational  Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1817): gothic + Romantic (in it emphasis on the possible consequences of human creativity and godlike creation) “Romantic” (beginning of19th c. Germany: positive connotation -> later 19th c. England) Germany: August Wilhelm and Friedrich Schlegel (Athenäum Fragments, 1798, Berlin Lectures, 1801-1804): Romantic (positive: Middle Ages, Renaissance, esp. Shakespeare) vs. Classic (negative: Latin, Greek, Neo-Classical, esp. Racine, Corneille), exaltation of “Romantic poetry” -> England: appropriation, from German, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge + Mme de Staël: De L’Allemagne ([Of Germany], publ. in London ! in 1813) Important historical events between Age of Sensibility and Romanticism: American War of Independence (1775-76), French Revolution (1789-1799-1815). 1789: destruction of Bastille, Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen <- liberty, equality, fraternity -> turns into Terror (1793: King Louis XIV beheaded, Robespierre in power, 1799: rise of Napoleon - expansive politics -> tensions between England and France increase -> 1815 Napoleon defeated at Waterloo) Edmund Burke: Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790): abrupt changes and the attachment to abstract theoretical ideas lead to violence -> need for “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and

equality. it can achieve . by awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom.” Mary Wollstonecraft: Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) Precursor of the feminist suffragette movement. but: continues and rewrites 18th century gothic + poetry of sensibility “it was agreed.e. on the other hand. Rev. Yet. as the ages and generations which preceded it. fraternity: rational principles to organise society England: sympathy: emphasis on feelings to organise society <. 1800. in all cases. yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of the imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment.: nature First generation of English Romantics: start out as radical supporters of the French. instead of a hereditary government. supporters of Burke (Wordsworth 1770-1850 and Coleridge 1772-1834) Yet. hereditary version of history (-> see: later Wordsworth and later Coleridge) Thomas Paine: Rights of Man (1791): defends the principles of the French Rev. Wordsworth) France: Rousseau – man originally and naturally good. the English blame the supremacy of abstract reason.solace in the fullness of uncorrupted nature. (Byron 1788-1824 Shelley 1792-1822 and Keats 1795-1821) ( + Blake. possible identification of the reader with characters. 1816. but corrupted by (aristocratic) society -> turn to nature England: literature of sensibility . “Every age and generation must be free to act for itself. when the Revolution turns into Terror. and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us. as opposed to the corruptive moral and social values associated with the effects of Industrial Revolution and the economic rise of the middle classes -> both Fr. an inexhaustible treasure…” (Coleridge. Ch 14.” -> conservativism: organic.) Supernatural (ex: The Rime of the Ancyent Mariner): despite its supernatural setting. Second generation: consistently liberal and supporters of the Rev. need for a representative. Mr Wordsworth. Coleridge’s poem reveals something “eternally and universally true” about “human nature” itself -> sympathy. born in 1757.sympathetic imagination both: “humanitarianism”: regard for the socially “oppressed”. And Engl. was to propose to himself as his object.2 those who are to be born. 1802): William Wordsworth + Samuel Taylor Coleridge A revolution in poetry. and opt for a solution rooted in feelings and sympathy (see: Blake. or at least romantic. [Thus. Vindicates the same human rights for women as the ones being vindicated by Paine for men France: liberty. somehow anomalous) Lyrical Ballads (1798. and to excite a feeling analogous to the supernatural. that my [i. but later turn into conservatives. which constitutes poetic faith. Biographia Literaria. Coleridge’s] endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural. keep their emphasis on feelings. to give the charm of novelty to things of everyday.

“imagination” <. + the “poet”: has the “ability of conjuring up in himself passions. “original” language (like man) only corrupted with the development of civilisation.our perception is determined by the activity and the inborn categories of our own mind (such as time.2): perception -> ideas <. and to relate or describe them. noumenon) vs. as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men. the world as it appears to us (appearances. then. Tintern Abbey. 49) – into the greater. “Preface”) – poet is able to evoke what is absent -> poetic imagination: a creative power.“natural”. throughout. there.” (Reeve.g. whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect” (Wordsworth. as to deceive us into a persuasion (at least while we are reading) that all is real. causality) -> mind active in perception and organises experience -> the world is something that we “half create. “Preface” to 1802 ed.g. creates the world around. to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination.mind passive in perception 19th century: transcendental philosophy: Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) the world as it is (thing-in-itself. “Poetry” “takes its origin from emotions recollected in tranquillity” (Ww. in fact.g. “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey…”. poems on children's psychology (e. poems that exalt nature (e. The Mad Mother). / And what perceive” (Wordsworth. of the persons in the story. of Lyrical Ballads) “common life” – uncorrupted. as if they were our own. proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life. that is. and. at the same time.shift between 18th and 19th century epistemology: mind passively perceives -> actively perceives. space.” (Ww.i. 111)] Nature: setting (escape. -> Thematics: poems of the supernatural (e. I. solace. Tintern Abbey) -> beyond or on the margins of corruptive soc. 18th c: Empiricism: John Locke An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) Mind at birth: tabula rasa -> “From Experience […] all our Knowledge is founded” (II. which are indeed far from being the same as those produced by real events. poems on human suffering (e.3 the effect that Clara Reeve attributed not to romances but to novels: the novel makes the events “appear so probable.g. rustic life “language really used by men”: as against the elaborate rhetorical devices of neo-classical 18th century poetry <. “Preface”) . phenomena) -> no way to grasp the world as it is <. 106-107) Romantic critique of Kant: poetic imagination permits an insight “into the life of things” (Wordsworth. until we are affected by the joys or distresses. spiritual reality behind appearances. bringing before the readers’ eyes many things that are not. We are Seven). The Ancient Mariner). moral support) + human nature “The principal object.

reason) + means: recollection: memory (like imagination) organises the initial experience (triggered by nature) into a meaningful whole. Beside the lake. Hung at my breasts. (21-30) Self-professed moral aim: to influence his readership by awakening their sympathetic imagination through poetry (that which necessarily involves aestheticisation) so that the world can become a better place to live. dull pain. […] For oft. When all at once I saw a crowd. Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Romantic exaltation of poetic imagination – that of genius: the “poet” has a “greater sensibility” and “a greater knowledge of human nature. However: this is what criticism calls “Romantic ideology”: relying on poetic vision to transform the world runs the risk of transforming it in vision but leaving it intact in reality. “Preface”) – he is a representative of “mankind” and speaks to a readership that is “mankind” (in fact: Ww’s readership was constituted by the members of middle classes) + represents ordinary (rural) people (that stand for “mankind”) -> moral aim: to generate sympathy for those living in the margins of society from “The Mad Mother” A fire was once within my brain. And in my head a dull. And dances with the daffodils. But then there came a sight of joy. not! in LB) Coleridge: “persons and characters supernatural” = “these shadows of the imagination” -they can reveal the most about some essential human nature. “Preface”) – elitist position (poet is better than ordinary men. two. I waked and saw my little boy.” (Ww. beneath the trees. and a more comprehensive soul. I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills. present.) However: the “poet” is also a “man speaking to men” (Ww. (Wordsworth: “I wandered lonely”. . and pulled at me. And fiendish faces – one. And then my heart with pleasure fills. than are supposed to be common among mankind. It came at once to do me good.4 origin: emotions (vs. My little boy of flesh and blood – Oh joy for me that sight to see! For he was here. three. 20 They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude. when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood. in fact. A host. of golden daffodils. Memory (like imagination) can function the best when the outside object (nature) is not. and only he.

that we may be as he is” (There is No Natural Religion. Therefore God becomes as we are. 1788) Importantly. He who sees the Ratio only sees himself only. Instead. for instance. he values what he elsewhere calls “Visionary Fancy or Imagination” whereby man can see the Infinite. spoke of such a visionary faculty as something distinct from ordinary perception: “Man’s perceptions are not bounded by organs of perception. who “is the . When he speaks about “the Poetic Genius”.5 Sympathy + aestheticisation Blake. he perceives more than sense (tho’ever so acute) can discover. […] He who sees the Infinite in all things sees God. Blake devalues both reason and sense perception as something restrictive.

which temporarily keep their shape. including nature and the history of both the individual and humanity is “something evermore about to be” (Prelude. The romantic kind of poetry is the only one that is more than a kind. relying on poetic vision to transform the world runs the risk of transforming it in vision but leaving it intact in reality. poetry itself: for in a certain sense all poetry is or should be romantic. that. elevated above the ordinary world of the shallow people. However. It can be exhausted by no theory […] It alone is infinite. of course. in fact. in fact. nature. an eternal becoming. however can only appear for the subject in the form of fixed. which becoming. Yet. 1788). Thus. just like the Romantics. in the form of phenomena.6 true Man” (All Religions are One. despite the changing material flowing through them. The world. However. that is. Athemäum Fragments (1798) . where I said that the term Romantic as we understand it today comes from Germany. the ideals exist not in any fixed and abstract realm of transcendent being. This is. who listens to his genius. in the progress of the individual mind and in the unfolding of human history itself.” Friedrich Schlegel: Fragment 116. “Romantic poetry is a progressive. In order to understand this emphasis on becoming as opposed to fixed being. or is endowed with a genial power that places him above ordinary people. […] The romantic kind of poetry is still in the state of their poetry. But also because we encounter a paradox here: romantic writers wanted to change the world so that it can become a better place to live. or the thing in itself can be best considered as an endless productivity. the crux of both such radical and revolutionary attempts as Shelley’s who claims that these are “Poets [and not politicians who] are the unacknowledged legislators of the world” (“Defence of Poetry”) or Wordsworth’s and Blake’s who offer plea for the socially oppressed . he endows this genius with a visionary and creative faculty. This is. as it were. is its real essence: that it should forever be becoming and never be perfected. it has to be emphasised that for the Romantics. According to Schelling. Not only because this way the poet becomes a kind of superhuman being. they are like eddies in a stream. universal poetry. but are immanent in the eternal becoming proper to nature. 541-2) Now the question rises what does all this have to do with art. just it alone is free. what Coleridge called “Dynamic Philosophy” we have to turn to the philosophy of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775-1854). or what we call Romanticism? Now I am turning back to the beginning of the lecture. these products are never complete in themselves. could not accept Kant’s division between the world of appearances and the things-in-themselves. an elitist position. and it recognises as its first commandment that the will of the poet can tolerate no law above itself. book VI. determined products. Romanticism already endows the poet. Schelling.

Schlegel’s solution is the advocacy of the fragment form: a fragment always draws attention to its own incompleteness and points to all that it cannot express. I sink. kept struggling with the challenge posed by the necessity to express the eternal and the ineffable through and in the temporal medium of language. In the same trend can be inscribed the conception that the first language of man was music. 587-591. is nature or the universe. advocated “natural” diction (that was not. Romantics were deeply preoccupied with the problem of language and of poetic diction. italics added) However. Originally. but hidden. a synecdoche for the whole and the eternal it can never fully represent. what can undoubtedly be stated is that the language of poetry was thoroughly metaphorical. as something that was the only means to express and to create what they considered to be the truth about the world. at the same time. in which there is no difference at all between signifier and signified. be it God. Shelley. In this sense. The ideology behind it was that. natural) and set as an example the language of the uncorrupted man living in nature. the limits that all verbal art has to face is that of language. including that of Leibnitz and Rousseau. for instance. “………………. for the poet. on the other hand. relationship between signifiers and signifieds. how far language. language was also something that was corrupted with the development of civilisation. In this sense. and. Wordsworth. there was a natural. the fragment becomes a symbol. “Epipsychidion”. or the imagination has the task to create something entirely new.7 This fragment suggests that Romantic poetry is exemplary in recreating this eternal process of becoming that is proper to nature. poetry. Yet.Woe is me! The winged words on which my soul would pierce Into the height of Love’s rare Universe. or the eternal process of becoming. and its derivative. But the question also rises. according to some Adamic conceptions of language. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein. it is also doomed to failure because of its own limits to express the inexpressible. Up till now we spoke about the necessity. Poets did not use rhetorical devices as an artifice to decorate their statement. out of nothing. similarly to God? And what if it actually does happen? In 1817. to express something already there. in fact. I expire!” (Percy Bysshe Shelley. the way in which Adam named the animals was presented as some ideal as against the ordinary use of language in which custom determines the meaning of words. I tremble. For the important . rather than artificial (cf: Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding). Are chains of lead around its flight of fire— I pant. the novel which can be considered as a significant commentary on the Romantic theme of the creative imagination. but as something that was already the statement itself.

as if they were our own. the romance] and the modern [the novel].” (Reeve. situation of *things*. and does so in the form of a monster? At the same time. or at least romantic. 111) “It was an attempt to blend the two kinds of romance. by strict adherence to common life” . and this is precisely the reason why they can achieve the effect that Clara Reeves attributed not to romances but to novels: The novel makes the events “appear so probable. yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment. Coleridge’s famous definition of the supernatural is but an importantly modified version of Walpole’s preface: “[M]y endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural. on the basis of its being immoral and of having nothing to do with human nature „we feel no great difficulty in yielding a temporary belief to any. like Johnson. how beings like ourselves would feel and act in it. namely. Invention has not been wanting. Keats’s ballads) I say often denied.8 questions it asks: what happens if the creative imagination is really.) The great difference. what if man takes the place of God and the product of his creative imagination becomes alive. reveal something eternal and universally true about human nature itself. which constitutes poetic faith. but the great recesses of fancy have been damned up. 6. between his own “supernatural poems” and the Gothic stories of the late 18th century is that his own poems. the strangest. according to Coleridge. Frankenstein is a very late outcome of the tradition of what was initially alluded to. and sometimes has been. and we instantly reject the clumsy fiction that does not harmonise with them” (Coleridge. nature is always intended to be. actually boundless. p. because Romantic writers tended to criticise the Gothic. So let us go back to the very beginnings: 18th century novel: (-> Coleridge’s “supernatural” poems. until we are affected by the joys or distresses. 1797) However. the romance tradition. I. In the former all was imagination and improbability: in the latter. copied with success.” (Biogrqphia Literaria. Chapter 14. But that situation once conceived. despite their supernatural setting. vol. our own feelings sufficiently instruct us. which literary history today calls gothic literature. the ancient [ie. of the persons in the story. II. as to deceive us into a persuasion (at least while we are reading) that all is real. Review of Lewis’s The Monk.