English Preromanticism: William Blake

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Klaipeda University
Institute of Continuing studies
Department of English Philology

Diana Griciuvien'

English Preromanticism: William Blake
Term Paper

Supervisor: Assoc. Prof. M. Šidlauskas

2008

CONTENTS

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………...............3 1. William Blake-a forerunner of English Romanticism
1 William Blake-a social critic of his own time………………………………………..6 2 William Blake’s ideas and the Modern World………………………………………6 2. “Songs of innocence and of Experience”-the most popular W.Blake’s poem book 1 The social significance of W. Blake’s work…………………………………………8 2 Paired poems-one of the most important characteristic……………………………....8 Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………..11 References……………………………………………………………………………………...12

INTRODUCTION

The object of this work is the features of English Preromanticism. The 18th century was a period of great literary works which focused on public and general themes, until the Preromantic era when literary works began to focus on personal expression. The Preromantic period presents the gap between the Enlightenment period and the Romantic period. The period of Enlightenment was a time of extensive change in people’s lives and ways of thinking. Economic and social advancement of the middle classes also helped to characterize the social history behind the Enlightenment movement. In England Preromanticism started with what is usually known as “The Graveyard School of Poetry”. The preromantics were a group of poets-Blake, Crabbe, Smart, Cowper, Gray, Collins and others-who aims were to pay more attention at the lower class and the social problems, and to the love of nature that became typical of English romanticism. Preromantics so emphasized the ideals of originality and sincerity. Although they prepared the way for the full flowering of Romanticism for Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge and the lot.

The Preromanticism was undoubtedly the reaction to the American Revolution, the French revolution, and the Industrial Revolution. The world today is plagued by various kinds of conflicts:ethnic, racial, religious and ideological also. Terrorism appears in many countries, although war in these days is not just a threat, it is a continuing actuality all over the globe. Furthermore, we are living in the age of the Information Revolution, which is entering a new phase, where humans become servants to machines rather than the other way around. Problem. All these aspects mentioned above reflects the events of the Enlightenment in the 18th century, which awakened Romanticism. Consequently, Romanticism ideas are relevant to the Modern World. The Preromantic poets were interested in nature, in the past, which pure and unspoilt, and in the individual. We live in an age of disturbance and we are very used to the idea of the eccentric artist who doesn’t follow the rules. Modern audiences have projected back a lot of their tolerances and preferences onto another age and see W.Blake as „a pioneering wild man of art” (Preromanticism Criticism). William Blake was a social critic of the time yet his criticism also reflects society of our own time as well.

Literature survey. Many poets of this period felt restricted by the precedents established by classic works of the past and the previous attitude that the greatest literature had already been written. Preromantics saw children as the future and were against child labour and the snatching of childhood. They strongly believed on the innocence of children. They saw the negative affects on life due to industry and viewed industrialisation as blameworthy for enslaving people and their “masters” treated them badly. Preromantics felt all people should have rights and be respected. All issues discussed in various literally sources show the reality of human sinfulness. In other words, each new power won by man is a power over man as well. The leading Preromantic poet was...
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