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Texts in Time
1770s ± 1850s


Defining Romanticism
The categories which it has become customary to use in distinguishing and classifying movements in literature or philosophy and in describing the nature of the significant transitions which have taken place in taste and in opinion, are far too rough, crude, undiscriminating -- and none of them so hopelessly as the category Romantic. Arthur O. Lovejoy (1924) Romanticism is a difficult and often contentious term to try and define. As one of the most complex µisms¶ of literary style, it is not a genre, ideology or clearly delineated style. It is underpinned by a paradigm shift in thinking, spawned in part by pressures for social, economic and political change.

Enormous Social Change: The Impact of Industrialization

Workers in a Tobacco Factory
Poverty, social marginalisation

Mechanisation resulted in dangerous and dehumanizing working conditions and low wages

Revolution ± Liberty and Social Justice
µNeither a revolt nor a reaction, Romanticism was a revolutionary fulfilment.¶ Professor Eugene Vinaver

American War of Independence 1776 Revolutionary and Napoleonic period in France, 1789-1815 French uprisings 1830 ± overthrow of Bourbon monarchy

oceans. by the gentle agency of natural objects. forests ‡ Source of inspiration and spirituality ‡ Untamed nature: exhilarating/sublime Yet having felt the power of nature. (Wordsworth) .NATURE Neo-Classical ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ Universal Subject to human control Gardens Source of peace and tranquillity ‡ Untamed nature: dangerous/evil Romantic ‡ Particular ‡ Beyond human control ‡ Mountains. led me on to feel the passions that were not my own.

Encyclopaedia Britannica ‡diversity and originality over uniformity and rigid forms or patterns ‡equality and egalitarian freedom over constraint and repression ‡sensibility over reason ‡individuality over conformity ‡imagination over intellectualism ‡nature over technology ‡exotic and mysterious over the mundane and known . but it has some features upon which there is general agreement.Major beliefs and ideas There is no single commonly accepted definition of Romanticism.

calm. idealization and rationality (Classicism) Reaction against the Enlightenment and physical materialism Emphasis on the: ‡ Individual ‡ Subjective ‡ Irrational ‡ Imaginative ‡ Personal ‡ Emotional ‡ Visionary ‡ Transcendental Valued: ‡ Sublime power of nature ‡ Emotion over reason ‡ Senses over intellect ‡ Individuality and eccentricity ‡ Genius ‡ Solitude ‡ The Common man and rural lifestyle . balance. harmony.Romanticism -Rejection of the precepts of order.

Individualism I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man¶s. (William Blake) Romanticism: ‡ Emphasized the special qualities of each individual¶s mind ‡ Valued the exploration and evaluation of the inner self ‡ Valorized individuality and the innate dignity of the common man and the µnoble savage¶ .

Imagination Man is all imagination¶(William Blake) Friedrich Schlegel echoed similar ideas in describing Romanticist literature as. Foakes affirms the value Romantics placed on the power of the imagination as well individualism and resistance to the dictates of authority.A. allowing reason to be suppressed. µRules of any kind. Introspection and reflection could liberate the thinker into a heightened spiritual state. arguing. were viewed as contrivance and not as art.¶ Contemporary critic R. including literary rules. µdepicting emotional matter in an imaginative form.¶ .

‡ Philosophers such as Rousseau. freedom. material world ‡ Romanticism tended to be optimistic in its outlook on life. ‡ The Romantic era was a time of reappraisal and reassessment.Idealism Ralph Emerson (1803-1882) championed humanity¶s innate goodness and limitless potential by questioning µWho can set bounds to the possibilities of man?¶ ‡ Romanticism was philosophically rooted in idealism. of intellectual. and human rights. scientific and artistic exploration. such as the beliefs in social equality. a search for meaning and truth . Kant and Schelling argued that humanity could live according to higher principles. ‡ Belief that the ideal world (that of the mind) was ³more real´ than the real.

imaginative and emotional expression. folk songs. their national character. nationalistic themes and symbols in their compositions while writers and poets used chivalric themes and settings. . legend. people were becoming more conscious of their history and destiny. urban over-crowding and dehumanised working conditions. including Keats. argued that economic progress came at the cost of increasing poverty. ‡ Impetus of change fostered sweeping changes across the arts ‡ New emphasis on use of everyday language and experience. decorum.¶ H. ‡ µAll over Europe. diversity. and their artistic heritage. order and emotional control was replaced by a new commitment to innovation.Kerman Enlightenment rationalism.Contextual Impact on texts? ‡ µPolitically. Musicians made use of myth.¶ Carl Slevin ‡ A second wave of Romanticists. Romanticism has been associated with every view from liberalism to extreme authoritarianism.

Fairchild argues that the µRomantics viewed the Medieval past nostalgically. artists and authors such as Sir Walter Scott. They also celebrated illusion. dramatically reinvented the medieval period. . viewing the literature of that period as stimulus material for realizing the ideal and idealizing the real. fancy. as a time lived before science had chilled and mechanized the mind. and the variety and spontaneity of life.¶ Poets. passion.Idealisation of the past H.

Ingwersen . and mythic and legendary material which would previously have been seen as low culture became a common basis for works of high art and literature. The subject matter as well as the way in which it was treated underwent a change.µRuins were sentimentalized as iconic of the action of Nature on the works of man.¶ N.

claimed that µwhile small.Eighteenth century philosopher. magnificent and awe-inspiring. Edmund Burke.¶ . smooth and ordered things could be beautiful. were vast. sublime objects found in Nature by contrast.

historical or philosophical issues. .Poets and artists often used nature as allegorical comments on spiritual. moral.

not an escape from it.Exotic scenery and imaginary landscapes provide a way to reality. Eigner . Edwin M.


¶ . and irrational.Professor John Lye describes the Gothic Romance style as one that. µspecialized in symbolic exploration of the unconscious through the strange. the haunting.

The Gothic Novel -Conventions. motifs and themes .


The Castle of Otranto .

Walpole¶s use of fear.µTHE CASTLE OF OTRANTO¶ -1765 Triggered the English Gothic novel. suspence. errie locations and other genre tropes spawned a series of µhorrible¶ novels that were parodied by Jane Austen in µNorthanger Abbey¶ .

. . McGann stresses. apparitions.¶ . what Schlegel called the abnormal species of literature . standardization. demons and monsters set within a menacing atmosphere of gloom that evokes horror. the local. and universality. ancient buildings such as ruined castles or monasteries.Gothicism versus Romanticism? The conventions of gothic literature include wild and desolate landscapes. J. disgust or terror. the peculiar. µGiven its interest in attacking received ideas of uniformity. even the eccentric and monstrous. Romanticism put a very high value on the unique.

The hidden knowledge of the universe and of human nature emerges through dreams because.Dreams/Visions: Terrible truths are often revealed to characters through dreams or visions. when the person sleeps. unreasonable world can break through. reason sleeps. and the supernatural. unconscious depths of the psyche that are repressed by reason² truths that are too terrible to be comprehended by the conscious mind. . Dreams in Gothic literature express the dark.

comedy of manners and romantic literary elements. ³where the reading of novels prevails as a habit. novels were often denigrated ‡ Coleridge maintained.´ ‡ Most novel readers were women . ‡ In Austen¶s time.Northanger Abbey -Jane Austen ‡ Considered a Gothic parody but also representing a hybridized mixture of neo-classicist. it occasions in time the entire destruction of the powers of the mind.

Barbara. changes the way people read stories ± Novel offers a critical lens on social flaws such as materialism and reading habits ± Literature: for self-improvement or social standard? Benedict.Northanger Abbey Criticism Reflects the commercialization of literature during the late 18th century ± 18th century brings more public circulation of libraries ± commercialization of literature and textual skimming. Catherine is µfrequently duped by the harsh world´ Northanger Abbey conveys Austen¶s theme of ³the importance of the education of judgment¶ Nicola Cummins .

politeness . sense.Austen Style Satiric Style ‡ Her style is focused on the realistic representation of HER society . This aspect of her work also enables her to fit into the µcomedy of manners¶ mould.foregrounds control. decorum.highlights the flaws and foibles through wit and humour.Classicism . ‡ concerned with studying the human character and social conventions of her time ‡ Strong focus on social etiquette and manners ‡ Austen¶s unique style cannot be easily classified into romanticism or classicism .

Innovative use of form. colour and medium.Great diversity of subjects and style. .

Romantic Artist ‡ Loner ‡ Unconventional ‡ Interested in the ³noble savage´ ‡ Amoral ‡ Genius ‡ Prophet George Gordon Lord Byron .



1818 ‡ Government ship bound for Senegal wrecked in 1816 ‡ Life boats accommodated the wealthy.Romanticism in France Gericault. The Raft of the Medusa. placed in a raft 65 by 35 and cut loose in the Atlantic ‡ Only 15 survived ‡ Géricault made scale model of raft in his studio. in turn. holds the grayish figures Appears in twilight. interviewed and painted survivors ‡ Concentration on moment of rescue ‡ Use of foreshortening ‡ Pyramid structure ‡ Heroic musculature ‡ ‡ ‡ Delacroix upside-down in foreground Monochromatic Concentric zones: outer margin of green water and blue sky frames the brown mass of raft which. warm diffuse glow of the morning sun Foreground: weight of corpses and massive mourners Middle ground: figures lifting and holding Ascent: climax of the painting at the intersection of the diagonals Painting dips down into our own space References to Michelangelo ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ ‡ . 149 other passengers were deserted by the captain.

English Romanticist Romanticist Poets Poets .


Coleridge wanted to give the supernatural a colouring of everyday reality. the supernatural and the extraordinary. While Wordsworth looked for the spiritual in everyday subjects.Coleridge s poetry often deals with the misterious. .

Louis Cazamian says that. µThe Rime of the Ancient Mariner¶ graphically represents a nightmarish existence. His dream states can be positive or negative. memory and intuition.¶ His mystery poems show how it can heighten consciousness through fusing vision. . µColeridge¶s art lies in his faculty of evoking the mystery of things¶.Mystery Poems In 1816. Coleridge described imagination as a µreconciling and mediatory power.

Readers are invited to listen to what the poet says. . location and characters.Conversation Poems Descriptive and meditative in style with blank verse used to mimic the rhythms and tones of spoken language. followed by an imaginative recount of experience before returning to the initial situation. Cyclical structure as in µThe Lime-Tree Bower¶ prompts self-awareness and reflection on the issues that have been raised. An expositional context orientates reader to situation.



The main theme of his poetry is: the conflict betwenn the real world of suffering. imagination and eternal youth.John Keats (1795 ±1821) was one of the principal poets of the English Romantic movement. his work received constant critical attacks from the periodicals of the day. death and decay and the ideal world of beauty. including a series of odes that were his masterpieces and which remain among the most popular poems in English literature. John Keats . During his short life. Elaborate word choice and sensual imagery characterize Keats's poetry.

the pleasure of the music and the boughs in bloom will never fade. the streets of the little town will always be desert and silent. a young man in love pursuing a girl and almost reaching her. The beauty of the girl. a procession of townspeople and priest leading a cow to the sacrifice. a piper under the trees in a pastoral setting. Keats is fascinated by the fact that art is able to present an ideal world because it can freeze actions and emotions: the lover depicted on the urn will never actually reach the girl he is following.Ode on a Grecian Urn The Ode describes an ancient greek urn decorated with classical motifs: A Dionysian festival with music and ecstatic dances. . the ardent passion of her lover. the pipers will never end their song.

the Virgin Mary. Independent through his life. He was buried in an unmarked grave at the public cemetery of Bunhill Fields. 1827. His father was a successful London hosier and attracted by the doctrines of Emmanuel Swedenborg. Blake was first educated at home. Blake left no debts at his death on August 12. His parents encouraged him to collect prints of the Italian masters. and in 1767 sent him to Henry Pars' drawing school. where he spent most of his life. chiefly by his mother. he saw and conversed with the angel Gabriel. From his early years. he experienced visions of angels and ghostly monks.Famous Romantic Poets William Blake was born in London. and various historical figures. William Blake .

Him being pantheistic identified the nature with god. .William Wordsworth s poetry emphasies the value of childhood experience an the celebration of nature. far from the spiritually bankrupt city. living in armony with his natural environment. He glorifies the spirit of man.


in the countryside or among the people) Coleridge --.nature inspires poetry --.a response to sensuous impressions --. the ordinary with the extraordinary Keats --. natural things.the strange. the exotic.Wordsworth --.common subjects can be poetic (the world of simple. a compassion for humanity . the mysterious --.poetry is spontaneous --.the combination of the natural with the of nature and art.

Individual Power and Revolutionary Fervor in Music Beethoven Tchaikovsky Verdi Wagner .