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Text of Romanticism

  • 1. Definition Main Characteristics Main Figures William Wordsworth Samuel Taylor Coleridge

2. Romanticism 3. Romanticism was a broad intellectual and artistic disposition that arose toward the end of the 18th century and reached its zenith during the early decades of the 19th century. 4. In general, this period can best be seen as one in which the major upheavals such as the French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution, and the revolutions of 1830 and 1848, along with the growth of nationalism, impelled the bourgeois classes toward political, economic, cultural, and ideological hegemony. 5. It was in the fields of philosophy and literature thatRomanticism as a broad response toEnlightenment, neoclassical, and Frenchrevolutionary ideals initially took root. 6. Romanticism 7. The ideals of Romanticism included: intense focus on human subjectivity and its expression. 2. an exaltation of nature, which was seen as a vast repository of symbols. 3. an exaltation of childhood and spontaneity. 4. an exaltation of primitive forms of society. 5. an exaltation of human passion and emotion. 6. an exaltation of the poet. 7. an exaltation of the sublime 8. an exaltation of imagination as a more comprehensive and inclusive faculty than reason. 8. The Romantics often insisted on artistic autonomy and attempted to free art from moralistic and utilitarian constraints. 9. Perhaps the most fundamental trait of all Romanticism was its shift of emphasis away from classical objectivity toward subjectivity: human perception playing an active role rather than merely receiving impressions passively from the outside world. 10. In general, the Romantics exalted the status of the poet, as a genius whose originality was based on his ability to discern connections among apparently discrepant phenomena and to elevate human perception toward a comprehensive, unifying vision. 11. The most crucial human faculty for such integrationwas the imagination, which most Romantics saw as aunifying power, one which could harmonize the otherstrata of human perception such as sensation andreason. Irony rose in status from a mere rhetorical device to anentire way of looking at the world, becoming, in theguise of Romantic irony, an index of a broadphilosophic vision. Irony effectively entails a failedsearch for meaning and unity. 12. Romanticism 13. Romanticism 14. The English movement reached its most matureexpression in the work of William Wordsworth. Wordsworths devotion to nature was lifelong; fromfirst to last, he viewed himself as a follower of nature;he saw nature as embodying a universal spirit. The most elemental factor in Wordsworths return tonature was imagination 15. Wordsworths most important contribution to literarycriticism, the celebrated and controversial Preface toLyrical Ballads. This collection of poems was publishedjointly by Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1798;Wordsworth added his preface to the 1800 edition. Wordsworths primary concern is with the language ofpoetry. He states that the poems in this volume areexperiments, written chiefly to discover how far thelanguage of conversation in the middle and lowerclasses of society is adapted to the purposes of poeticpleasure. 16. In what is perhaps the most striking and important passage of the Preface, Wordsworth states that the central aim of the poems in Lyrical Ballads was: to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspects. 17. Romanticism 18. Coleridges Biographia Literaria (1817) is his mostsignificant literary-critical work. Some critics havepraised the insight and originality of thiswork, viewing Coleridge as the first English critic tobuild literary criticism on a philosophical foundation. 19. Coleridge offers his best-known definitions of imagination. He makes his famous suggestion that fancy and imagination, contrary to widespread belief, are two distinct and widely different faculties: they are not two names with one meaning, or . . . the lower and higher degree of one and the same power. The primary IMAGINATION I hold to be the livingPower and prime Agent of all human Perception. FANCY is a mode of Memory emancipated from theorder of time and space. 20. Coleridge views the imagination as a faculty which unites what we receive through our senses with the concepts of our understanding; but he goes further in viewing imagination as a power which completes and enlivens the understanding so that the understanding itself becomes a more comprehensive and intuitive (rather than merely discursive) faculty. 21. Coleridge insists that the language of poetry is essentially different from that of prose. He acknowledges that poetry is formed from the same elements as prose; the difference lies in the different combination of these elements and the difference of purpose.