The Context of Romanticism
English(hons) IIIrd year
Romanticism is an art form that has been around since ancient times although it is more formally recognized as an artistic style in early nineteenth century. The term Romanticism applies to many different forms of art, including literature. When using the term in relation to the art, there is usually an emphasis on the passionate or violent. There are also fewer rules then other styles and the artwork can be created quickly and show powerful human feelings. Romantic artists may also distort the shape of their subjects. Buildings and landscapes are often depicted as magical or mysterious. Nature is often depicted as being unpredictable and violent. The Romantic era was one that focused on the commonality of humankind and, while using emotion and nature; the poets and their works shed light on people's universal natures. Romanticism as a movement declined in the late 19th century and early 20th century with the growing dominance of Realism in the literature and the rapid advancement of science and technology. However, Romanticism was very influential during its time. The movement was extremely popular in literature. In America, Romanticism was defined by the "five I's:" inspiration, intuition, innocence, imagination, and inner experience. These tenets gave rise to many Romantic writers, who stressed the innate goodness of man, favored the individual over the group, revered nature, and rebelled against political authority. Thus, the Romantic hero-youthful, innocent, intuitive, in touch with nature and out of touch with civilization-was created These authors were met with some resistance by the Dark Romantics, which declared humans inherently evil and acknowledged guilt and sin. But all Romantics believed in signs and symbols in human and natural events and considered intuition the superior of logic and reason. Nature was also a particularly common subject and is consistently used in American Transcendentalism and British poetry and prose. Thus the written word was an important tool in conveying the ideals of the Romantic movement. Romanticism was somehow the triumphant return to self-awareness. The music seized completely to serve as an entertainment for the aristocracy, and became more artistic. Romanticism seeks to unite forms of art, sees them as a manifestation of a bigger idea which is spiritual, empowering, redeeming and still, human. It is free from dogmatic control but nevertheless enlighting and divine. Romanticism’s purpose is not to amaze you by grandeur or grace, but to raise your emotions and guide you to an aesthetic experience. Romanticism has very little to do with things popularly thought of as “romantic” although love may occasionally be the subject of Romantic art. Rather, it is an international artistic and philosophical movement that redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world. The entomology of the word "romantic" is also of some interest. It was first used to describe medieval romances in the mid-1600s. After that, however, "romantic" was associated with anything that opposed truth and fact. Later the term connoted with the opposition to reason by German and British poets of the late 18th century. Now, the term describes the entire literary and artistic movement.
It is one of the curiosities of literary history that the strongholds of the Romantic Movement were England and Germany, not the countries of the romance languages themselves. Thus it is from the historians of English and German literature that we inherit the convenient set of terminal dates for the Romantic period, beginning in 1798, the year of the first edition of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge and of the composition of Hymns to the Night by Novalis, and ending in 1832, the year which marked the deaths of both Sir Walter Scott and Goethe....
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