An introduction to the analysis of the history of romanticism

For although the revolution itself had its beginnings in ideas and conditions preceding that date, it is clear that the events of brought together and crystallized a multitude of hopes, fears, and desires into something visible, potent, and irreversible. To say that in reform becomes revolt is to record a positive change, a genuine starting point.

An introduction to the analysis of the history of romanticism

Romanticism

Furthermore, no period has been the topic of so much disagreement and confusion over its defining principles and aesthetics. Romanticism, then, can best be described as a large network of sometimes competing philosophies, agendas, and points of interest.

In England, Romanticism had its greatest influence from the end of the eighteenth century up through about Its primary vehicle of expression was in poetry, although novelists adopted many of the same themes. In America, the Romantic Movement was slightly delayed and modulated, holding sway over arts and letters from roughly up to the Civil War.

In a broader sense, Romanticism can be conceived as an adjective which is applicable to the literature of virtually any time period. With that in mind, anything from the Homeric epics to modern dime novels can be said to bear the stamp of Romanticism.

In spite of such general disagreements over usage, there are some definitive and universal statements one can make regarding the nature of the Romantic Movement in both England and America.

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First and foremost, Romanticism is concerned with the individual more than with society. The individual consciousness and especially the individual imagination are especially fascinating for the Romantics. There was a coincident downgrading of the importance and power of reason, clearly a reaction against the Enlightenment mode of thinking.

Nevertheless, writers became gradually more invested in social causes as the period moved forward. Thanks largely to the Industrial Revolution, English society was undergoing the most severe paradigm shifts it had seen in living memory. The response of many early Romantics was to yearn for an idealized, simpler past.

In particular, English Romantic poets had a strong connection with medievalism and mythology. The tales of King Arthur were especially resonant to their imaginations.

On top of this, there was a clearly mystical quality to Romantic writing that sets it apart from other literary periods. Of course, not every Romantic poet or novelist displayed all, or even most of these traits all the time.

An introduction to the analysis of the history of romanticism

On the formal level, Romanticism witnessed a steady loosening of the rules of artistic expression that were pervasive during earlier times. The Neoclassical Period of the eighteenth century included very strict expectations regarding the structure and content of poetry. By the dawn of the nineteenth century, experimentation with new styles and subjects became much more acceptable.

In terms of poetic form, rhymed stanzas were slowly giving way to blank verse, an unrhymed but still rhythmic style of poetry. The purpose of blank verse was to heighten conversational speech to the level of austere beauty.

Some criticized the new style as mundane, yet the innovation soon became the preferred style. One of the most popular themes of Romantic poetry was country life, otherwise known as pastoral poetry.

Mythological and fantastic settings were also employed to great effect by many of the Romantic poets. Though struggling and unknown for the bulk of his life, poet and artist William Blake was certainly one of the most creative minds of his generation.

He was well ahead of his time, predating the high point of English Romanticism by several decades. His greatest work was composed during the s, in the shadow of the French Revolution, and that confrontation informed much of his creative process. Throughout his artistic career, Blake gradually built up a sort of personal mythology of creation and imagination.

The Old and New Testaments were his source material, but his own sensibilities transfigured the Biblical stories and led to something entirely original and completely misunderstood by contemporaries. He attempted to woo patrons to his side, yet his unstable temper made him rather difficult to work with professionally.

Some considered him mad. In addition to writing poetry of the first order, Blake was also a master engraver. His greatest contributions to Romantic literature were his self-published, quasi-mythological illustrated poetry collections. Gloriously colored and painstaking in their design, few of these were produced and fewer still survive to the present day.

However, the craft and genius behind a work like The Marriage of Heaven and Hell cannot be ignored. If one could identify a single voice as the standard-bearer of Romantic sensibilities, that voice would belong to William Wordsworth.

His publication of Lyrical Ballads in is identified by many as the opening act of the Romantic Period in English literature. It was a hugely successful work, requiring several reprinting over the years.

The dominant theme of Lyrical Ballads was Nature, specifically the power of Nature to create strong impressions in the mind and imagination. There is the sense that past, present, and future all mix together in the human consciousness.

One feels as though the poet and the landscape are in communion, each a partner in an act of creative production. Wordsworth quite deliberately turned his back on the Enlightenment traditions of poetry, specifically the work of Alexander Pope.In England, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, and Byron typified Romanticism.

In France, the movement was led by men like Victor Hugo, who wrote the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

An introduction to the analysis of the history of romanticism

Although it knew no national boundaries, Romanticism was especially prevalent in Germany, spearheaded by artists like Goethe and thinkers such as Hegel. The Romantic period The nature of Romanticism. As a term to cover the most distinctive writers who flourished in the last years of the 18th century and the first decades of the 19th, “Romantic” is indispensable but also a little misleading: there was no self-styled “Romantic movement” at the time, and the great writers of the period did not call themselves Romantics.

Analysis of function becomes more complex when the personal motivations of the people responsible for making a work are considered. For much of history, this includes not only artists but also the patrons who commissioned works and in some cases, advisors acting on the patron’s behalf. In America, the Romantic Movement was slightly delayed and modulated, holding sway over arts and letters from roughly up to the Civil War.

Contrary to the English example, American literature championed the novel as the most fitting genre for Romanticism’s exposition. Romanticism: The American Scholar A.O. Lovejoy once observed that the word 'romantic' has come to mean so many things that, by itself, it means nothing at all The variety of its actual and possible meanings and connotations reflect the complexity and multiplicity of European romanticism.

History of Europe - Romanticism and Realism: To make the story of 19th-century culture start in the year of the French Revolution is at once convenient and accurate, even though nothing in history “starts” at a precise moment. For although the revolution itself had its beginnings in ideas and conditions preceding that date, it is clear that the events of brought together and.

SparkNotes: Europe (): Romanticism