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Romanticism

ROMANTICISM

ROMANTICISM. Ever since A. O. Lovejoy explained the importance of "discriminating among" the strands, scholars have resisted treating "Romanticism" as a single unified historical movement. Without minimizing this variety, however, it is still possible to identify some emphases common to western Romanticisms, whether in the United States, England, or on the continent, especially in France and Germany. All celebrate the importance of the individual. Most represent human potential in terms of an organic link with the natural world. Many depict this capacity for human growth as the triumph of the intuitive over the methodical and rational. Some suppose that individual self-culture will lead to social progress, even political revolution.

The Beginnings of American Romanticism

In the United States, anticipations of Romanticism appear as early as the late eighteenth century—most notably in discussions of the sublime and the picturesque in landscape, and in the influence of the "moral sense" philosophy of such post-Lockeans as Francis Hutcheson, Dugald Stewart, and Thomas Reid. Although such proto-Romanticism can be found even in the works of Jonathan Edwards and Thomas Jefferson, it is most evident in the gothic and sentimental fictions that flourished in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It is customary, however, to date the official beginning of American Romanticism from the rise of Bostonian "transcendentalism" in the 1830s. An outgrowth of liberal Christianity, transcendentalism began as occasional meetings among recent graduates of the Harvard Divinity School. The so-called Transcendental Club soon expanded into more inclusive discussions among men and (a few) women of general interests—primarily in philosophy, literature, and moral theology. From 1840 to 1844, the group published its own journal, The Dial. But its most important statement was one of its earliest: published in 1836, a few days before the club's first meeting, the little book Nature became the unofficial "credo" of transcendentalism, from its most influential spokesperson, Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Emerson's Nature was less concerned with the natural landscape than with the role that individual thought played in perceiving the world of substance. In his argument for the creative power of consciousness, Emerson drew not only on the Scottish moral sense philosophers, but also on European epistemology in general, with special emphasis on René Descartes, John Locke, and Immanuel Kant. He learned from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, perhaps through intermediaries like Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Victor Cousin, to value the intuitions of Reason over the mechanical demonstrations of the Understanding. Most of the book outlined the value of idealism, with a complementary lack of interest in the material world. However radical Emerson's embrace of Kantian idealism, readers found more compelling the uplifting poetry of the prophetic final chapter "Prospects." When one's life conformed, Emerson claimed, to the "true idea" in one's mind, the influx of spirit would work a "corresponding revolution" in things. Not only did the disagreeable vanish; man, understood as a "god in ruins," once again established dominion over his kingdom.

Emerson was transcendentalism's most philosophical writer and its greatest advocate for unification with the Universal Spirit or the One. He was less interested in the practical consequences of that union. When invited to join a local reform group, he refused to lift "the siege of [my] hencoop" to "march baffled away to a pretended siege of Babylon." Most transcendentalists, however, saw spiritual purification as only the first step in political reform. Bronson Alcott and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody actively engaged in humanizing secondary education; while George Ripley put into practice the theories of French utopian Charles Fourier in his communal experiment at Brook Farm. Most influential in their politics were the two students most closely influenced by Emerson—Margaret Fuller and Henry David Thoreau. Emerson's coeditor at The Dial, Fuller was famous for her travel writing, reviews, and translations, and as part of the Italian unification movement. But her most celebrated work was "The Great Lawsuit: MAN versus MEN. WOMAN versus WOMEN," published first in The Dial in 1845 and expanded soon thereafter into the book-length Woman in the Nineteenth Century. The most influential feminist tract between those of Mary Wollstonecraft and Virginia Woolf, Woman explored gendered aspects of Emerson's sexless Universal. Just as Emerson foretold the advent of godlike American scholars and poets, so Fuller ended her work rhapsodically awaiting the second coming of woman as a daughter of God: "Would [woman] but assume her inheritance, Mary would not be the only Virgin Mother. … The soul is ever young, ever virgin."

Like Fuller, Thoreau introduced social realities into Emerson's abstract philosophy. In A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849), Walden, or Life in the Woods (1854), and numerous essays, he examined with microscopic attention the natural world that for Emerson remained merely ideal and phenomenal. More important, perhaps, was his early and unflinching opposition to slavery. Notorious in his age for his 1860 defense of John Brown, Thoreau has in later generations been more celebrated for his earlier piece, "Resistance to Civil Government" (1849), which under the posthumous title of "Civil Disobedience" helped shape Gandhi's and Martin Luther King Jr.'s policies of passive resistance. Taking to its logical conclusion the Emersonian proposition that society conspires against the "manhood" of its members, Thoreau announced that "that government is best which governs not at all."

Beyond Transcendentalism

Romanticism among American writers was not, however, restricted to the New England transcendentalists. Some Romantic novelists responded directly to transcendental theories—whether negatively as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance (1852) or more ambivalently as in Herman Melville's Moby-Dick (1851). Romantic historians like George Bancroft, Francis Parkman, and William Prescott tempered fact with a gripping narrative style to celebrate a "democratic" vision of America. Most puzzling, especially in its regional allegiances with both the North and the South, was the work of Edgar Allan Poe. Continuing older literary traditions, Poe's use of the gothic superimposed on a popular commercial genre a metaphysical density that was at times indistinguishable from Emerson's—by Poe's own account a Gothicism "not of Germany, but of the Mind."

The place of Romanticism outside of literature is harder to assess. Unitarianism shared many characteristics with the transcendentalist movement it spawned, particularly its distaste for the stern Calvinist image of God, and its support for liberal political reform. It was less comfortable, however, with Emersonian notions of the divinity in man, and openly opposed the transcendentalists' rejection of both the Holy Trinity and Christ's miracles. More generally, the religious intensity of the mid-century can be seen as broadly Romantic, and in fact transcendentalism has frequently been read as a more secular form of the revivalism that swept the Midwest and the "burned-over" district of upstate New York. Here the shifting allegiances of the Beecher family may be taken as representative. Firmly grounded in a Calvinist tradition of fire-and-brimstone preaching, Lyman Beecher openly rejected the "icy" rhetoric of Boston Unitarianism. Although his gradualist approach to both salvation and abolition seemed too cautious for the more fiery imagination of the frontier preacher Charles Grandison Finney, Beecher eventually became reconciled to Finney's evangelicalism to avoid the greater dangers of Bostonian secularism. By the next generation, Lyman's son Henry Ward Beecher was able to combine traditional Presbyterianism with a philosophical outlook not far from Emerson's own.

The point of convergence between religious and more secular Romanticisms was a shared sense of the perfectibility of man. Perfectibility had been a common theme of progressive Enlightenment philosophy. In mid-nineteenth-century America, however, the religious dimensions of programs for the betterment of individuals may have also reinforced conservative politics. The attempts of such benevolence societies as the American Bible Association and the American Tract Society to enlighten the lower classes also had the effect of bringing those previously ignored groups under more careful social surveillance. A similarly uncomfortable compromise between personal advancement and social control can be seen in the period's preoccupation with institutionalization, especially the prison reform movement.

The ambiguities by which Romantic reform of the individual also bound down the underprivileged are perhaps most evident in the women's movement. The most transcendental feminists like Fuller and Peabody eschewed any group activity to focus exclusively on self-cultivation. But more mainstream proponents like Catherine Beecher located female excellence in the special characteristics of women. This argument afforded the movement great power only at the expense of reinforcing domestic stereotypes. The limitations of this position informed much of mid-century women's fiction. The heroine's triumph over adversity in best-sellers like Susan Warner's The Wide, Wide World (1851) and Maria Cummins's The Lamplighter (1854) was accomplished by obedience to authority, spiritual and patriarchal. Even in Harriet Beecher Stowe's fierce Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851– 1852), the conclusion—that slavery can be ended only through the reform of individuals into a state of "right feeling"—betrayed both its origins in Emerson's self-reliance and the insufficiency of transcendentalism as a political tool.

Eventually absorbed into the political ferment of antebellum culture, Romanticism as a movement was eclipsed by more pressing realities of secession and reconstruction. Yet the precepts of Romanticism continue to shape culture today. Modern Romanticism is most apparent in the poetic tradition, where the experiments of the late Romantic experimental poets Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson stand as models for most subsequent poetry, not only of Ezra Pound and Wallace Stevens, but later of Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne Rich, and John Ashbery. Even intellectual traditions like pragmatism and naturalism that define themselves in opposition to Romanticism still maintain clear links to the earlier tradition; there is as much of Emersonian individualism in William James, Theodore Dreiser, and Ernest Hemingway as in any of his Boston contemporaries. On the darker side, cynical readings of individualism and perfectibility are regularly used to justify contemporary laissez-faire economics and corporate greed. As a literary and philosophical movement, American Romanticism ended in 1865; as a cultural mentality, it is still very much with us.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Davis, David Brion, ed. Antebellum Reform. New York: Harper and Row, 1967. Particularly fine essay by John L. Thomas on Romantic reform.

Hutchison, William R. The Transcendentalist Ministers: Church Reform in the New England Renaissance. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1959.

Matthiessen, F. O. American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1941.

Packer, Barbara L. "The Transcendentalists." In The Cambridge History of American Literature, Volume II; 1820–1865. Edited by Sacvan Bercovitch. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Rose, Ann C. Transcendentalism As a Social Movement, 1830– 1850. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981.

Tompkins, Jane. Sensational Designs: The Cultural Work of American Fiction, 1790–1860. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. Fine feminist account of sentimental fiction.

DavidVan Leer

See alsoTranscendentalism .

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Romanticism

ROMANTICISM

Unlike the Enlightenment, a cultural movement that was imported into Russia from the West and thus, in the words of the poet Alexander Pushkin, "moored on the banks of the conquered Neva" (referring to the river that flows through St. Petersburg), Romanticism had a more indigenous quality, building on the earlier cultural tradition of sentimentalism. The awakening of the heart experienced by Russian society in the second half of the eighteenth century resulted in an oversensitive, reflective personalitya type that persisted in the next generation and evolved into the superfluous man epitomized by Pushkin in the character of Eugene Onegin in the poem of the same name, and by Mikhail Lermontov in Pechorin, the protagonist of A Hero of Our Time. The full-fledged Romantic type was born in Russia during the reign of Alexander I (18011825), which witnessed Napoleon's invasion and subsequent fall and the Russian army's triumphant entry into Paris. These cataclysmic events powerfully enhanced, in the conscience of a sensitive generation, a fatalistic conception of change to which both kingdoms and persons are subjecta conception shared by Alexander. At the same time, an idea of freedom and happiness "within ourselves"notwithstanding the doom of external realitywas put forward with unprecedented strength. The Alexandrine age saw an extraordinary burst of creativity, especially in literature.

western influences

Russian Romanticism was strongly influenced by cultural developments in the West. Vasily Zhukovsky's masterly translations and adaptations from German poetry are representative of the transitional 1800s and early 1810s. Later, British literary influence became dominant. "It seems that, in the present age, a poet cannot but echo Byron, as well as a novelist cannot but echo W. Scott, notwithstanding the magnitude and even originality of talent," wrote the poet and critic Peter Vyazemsky in 1827. More philosophical authors such as Vladimir F. Odoyevsky persistently looked to German thought for inspiration; Schelling was particularly important. The evolution of French literature was also keenly followed: Victor Hugo (but hardly the dreamy Lamartine) aroused much sympathy in the Russian Romantics. A seminal event was the sojourn in St. Petersburg and Moscow of the exiled Polish poet Adam Mickiewicz. However, the study of European models only convinced Russian authors and critics that Romanticism necessarily implied originality. "Conditioned by the desire to realize the creative originality of the human soul," Romanticism owes its formation "not just to every individual nation, but, what is more, to every individual author," wrote Nikolai Polevoy, a leading figure in the Russian Romantic movement. Characteristically, Pushkin struggled to dispel the image of Russian Byron, while Lermontov explicitly declared his non-Byronism.

controversies

The Russian Romantic movement consolidated. In the late 1810s, the ClassicRomantic controversy broke out, continuing throughout the 1820s and 1830s. Russian literary journals took sides. Academic circles, too, were engaged in the controversy: Nikolai Nadezhdin's Latin dissertation on Romantic poetry is a case in point. The Classicists claimed that Romanticism sought anarchy in literature and in the fine arts, whereas "Art, generally, is obedience to rules." Indeed, the Romantics, especially in their poetic declarations, blissfully proclaimed the lawlessness of artistic creation. In theoretical discussions, however, they did not simply reject the classical rigidities, but undertook to formulate alternative laws, loosely, those of nature, beauty, and truth. A more specific agreement was difficult to reach, not just on specific issues such as the principles of Romantic drama, but also on the very meaning of Romanticism. Vladimir Nabokov has identified at least eleven various interpretations of "Romantic" current in Pushkin's time. As might be expected, the internal controversy emerged in the Romantic camp. The polemics, piercing other than purely theoretical issues, often involved angry exchanges. Literary alliances were vulnerable, as in the case of Pushkin and Nikolai Polevoy. Yet, the early nineteenth century witnessed a remarkable tendency, on the part of the authors, artists, and musicians, to form circles, attend salons, and group around enlightened patrons.

crossing borders

In this kind of atmosphere, crossing of borders between different arts was common. Vasily Zhukovsky produced brilliant drawings; Lermontov nearly abandoned writing for the sake of painting; Vladimir Odoyevsky was a musicologist as well as a poet and novelist; the playwright Alexander Griboyedov, a talented composer. As art historian Valery Turchin points out, it was the musician rather than the poet who was eventually promoted, in the view of the Romantics, to the role of the supreme type of artistic genius. This precisely reflected the Romantics' quest for the spiritual, for music, of all the arts, was considered the least bound by materiality. Arguably, Romanticism was a later phenomenon in Russian music than in literature and art. Anyway, a contemporary of Pushkin, the composer Mikhail Glinka, renowned for his use of Russian folk tradition, was a major contributor to the Romantic movement. The painter Orestes Kiprensky commenced his series of Romantic portraits during the very dawn of literary Romanticism. Somewhat later emerged the Romantic schools of landscape and historical painting. Even in architecture, the art most strongly bound by matter, new trends showed up against the neoclassical background: neogothicism, exotic orientalism, and, finally, the national current exemplified in Konstantin Ton's churches. During the reign of Nicholas I (18251855) Romanticism began to be diffused in the more general quest for history and nationality.

slavophilism

The important offshoot of this development was Slavophilism. Nicholas I typified the new epoch in the same way as Alexander I had typified the previous age. In his youth, Nicholas had received a largely Romantic education. He was an admirer of Walter Scott and was inclined to imitate the kings of Scott's novels. Characteristically, Pushkin, during the reign of Nicholas, persistently returns to the twin themes of nobility and ancestry, lamenting (in a manner closely resembling Edmund Burke) the passing of the age of chivalry. The dominant mood of the period, however, was nationalistic and messianic, and here again the Romantics largely shared the inclinations of the tsar. Notably, it was Peter Vyazemsky who coined the word narodnost (the Russian equivalent of "nationality"), which became part of the official ideological formula ("Orthodoxy, Autocracy, Nationality"). Odoevsky argued that because of their "poetic organization," the Russian people would attain superiority over the West even in scientific matters. Pushkin welcomed the suppression of the Polish uprising of 1831, interpreting it in Panslavic terms. Nonetheless, there was an unbridgeable psychological rift between the tsar and the Romantic camp, which had its origin in the catastrophe of December 1825. Several of the Decembrists (most importantly, Kondraty Ryleyev, one of the five executed) were men of letters and members of the Romantic movement. Throughout the reign, a creative personality faced fierce censorship and remained under the threat of persecution. Many could say with Polevoy (whose ambitious Romantic enterprise embraced, beside literature, history and even economics, but whose Moscow Telegraph, Russia's most successful literary journal, was closed by the government): "My dreams remained unfulfilled, my ideals, unexpressed." The split between ideal and reality was the central problem for Romanticism universally, but in Russia this problem acquired a specifically bleak character.

See also: golden age of russian literature; lermontov, mikhail yurievich; odoyevsky, vladimir fyodorovich; pushkin, alexander sergeyevich; slavophiles; zhukovsky; vasily andreyevich

bibliography

McLaughlin, Sigrid (1972). "Russia: RomanicČeskij-RomanticČeskij-Romantizm." In "Romantic" and Its Cognates: The European History of a Word, ed. Hans Eichner. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Peer, Larry H. (1998). "Pushkin and Romantizm," In Comparative Romanticisms: Power, Gender, Subjectivity, ed. Larry H. Peer and Diane Long Hoeveler. Columbia, SC: Camden House.

Riasanovsky, Nicholas V. (1992). The Emergence of Romanticism. New York: Oxford University Press.

Rydel, Christine, ed. (1984). The Ardis Anthology of Russian Romanticism. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis.

Yuri Tulupenko

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Romanticism

ROMANTICISM

ROMANTICISM. According to most definitions, Romanticism begins sometime around or after 1789, the terminal date of this encyclopedia and the moment of the French Revolution. 1789 has been the key date in a good many historical narratives, the point at which everything is thought to have changed forever. But much of what we recognize as Romantic was in place before the Revolution. Confusion arises from the way in which scholars and critics have understood Romanticism as both a period (somewhere between 1760 and 1850) and an attitude or disposition whose priorities include (but are not limited to) emotionalism, excessive self-consciousness, respect for the dignity of childhood, a critique of neoclassicism, an interest in folk culture and primitive origins, a preference for rural life, and a high valuation of private reading over public performance. Artists or writers who foreshadow these concerns before 1789 are likely to be called "Preromantics" (Brown, 1991) or to be assigned to the "age of sensibility" (Hilles and Bloom). The poet George Crabbe (17541832) is squarely within the Romantic period but is anti-Romantic because he opposes the spirit of the age. Some writers, like Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (17491832), go through Romantic and anti-Romantic phases; others, like Lord Byron (17881824), appear throughout as excessively Romantic in some ways (the melodramatic hero) and doggedly antagonistic in others (the decision to use neoclassical rhyming couplets).

Romanticism can be politically radical and democratic (as it was held to be in Britain among the poetic avant-garde in the 1790s) or reactionary and traditional (as it mostly was in France). Often it can be somewhere in between, leading to a lively controversy about, for example, the politics of William Wordsworth's (17701850) poetry. National chronologies also vary significantly. British and German Romanticisms are held to be well under way in the 1790s; French and other European Romanticisms come later, in the 1800s and after; and American Romanticism comes later still. Romanticism also varies according to the forms and genres we examine. Ludwig van Beethoven (17701827) and Franz Schubert (17971828) are Romantics; there are Romantic painters (Francisco Goya [17461828], James Mallord William Turner [17751852], and Eugène Delacroix [17981863]); but there is no familiar concept of Romantic architecture (Gothic revival comes closest). There is lots of Romantic literature, especially poetry.

Intellectual historians have often favored explanations relating both the Revolution and Romanticism to preexisting conditions, and in this they repeat a common assumption of the 1790s whereby massive historical changes were attributed to the power of ideas. Commentators of both left and right blamed or praised Voltaire (16941778), Denis Diderot (17131784), and Jean-Jacques Rousseau (17121778) for historical events that none of them lived to see. Many recent interpreters have assimilated Romanticism into a "long eighteenth century" starting around 1690 and extending well into the 1800s, making it central to our understanding of modernity as a whole. Others retain an allegiance to the idea of a clear break between a "classical" eighteenth century and a "modern" worldview. Michel Foucault took the second position in describing the emergence of the "sciences of man," for which biocultural life is both the origin and the object of knowledge. The compulsive reflexivity and often anxious self-consciousness emanating from this sense of temporality can also be traced in historically earlier forms, though we might agree that it comes to be dominant and impossible to ignore in the Romantic period and the Romantic attitude. Debates between the so-called ancients and moderns throughout the eighteenth century had taken up the question of how much we could expect to understand in the literature of the past, given its different conditions of production and reception. Some felt that truth was transhistorical and natural, others that meaning could only be recovered by careful and patient research (Levine).

The 1700s also saw the emergence of a biblical hermeneutics (science of interpretation) concerned to establish the origins and relative authenticities of the various parts of the Bible (Frei): the sacred book was given human time and place. Again, the Romantic interest in folk and popular culture emerged from a preexisting tradition of antiquarianism that was already implicated in a nationalist-imperialist agenda, one that became even more urgent during the European and world wars that dominated the years between 1793 and 1815. Romanticism embodies a north European, Gothic primitivism that could be invoked to support both popular democracy and the monarchist alliance against Napoleon, as well as a liberal-classicist, cosmopolitan admiration of the pagan Mediterranean that was used to critique the restorations of 1815 (Butler, ch. 5). We can look to Romanticism as containing forms of resistance to the "civilizing process" described by Norbert Elias, evident, for example, in the revolt of Lord Byron, Robert Burns (17591796), and Gérard de Nerval (18081855) against the rituals of bourgeois self-discipline. However, it includes also those forms of acutely anxious self-examination, as in William Wordsworth's or John Keats's (17951821) poetry, which are so clearly coincident with the taming of social violence and the internalization of revolt that Elias traced in the evolution of modern manners.

Romanticism has mostly been a polemical and politicized construction, whether in the interpretations of latter-day scholars (Simpson, 1993, 2000) or in the earliest inventions of the category itself. Hegel gave us the most forceful early definition in positing Romanticism as marked by a turn from the external to the internal, spiritual world and the afterlife. He saw this beginning in the Christian Middle Ages and intensifying in later centuries. His Romanticism is thereby somewhat coincident with the royalist, Christian, antirevolutionary movement typified by François René Chateaubriand (17681848) and Victor Hugo (18021885). A chronologically more contained Romanticism has been based on the Byronic hero, with its obvious allusions to the figure of Napoleon in its liberating as well as its tyrannical incarnations. Still another can be based on the new interest in folk culture (Johann Gottfried von Herder [17441803], William Wordsworth, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott [17711832]). Romanticism has been identified with both religion (orthodox and nonconformist) and atheism, with the political right and left, with progressive optimism and besetting nostalgia, according to the needs of its various interpreters. It is perhaps best understood as an assembly of all of these tendencies (and others) within a loosely understood historical period, giving us the tools for setting about a study of individual artists or movements without imposing a prescriptive boundary.

See also English Literature and Language ; French Literature and Language ; German Literature and Language ; Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von ; Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de ; Herder, Johann Gottfried von ; Revolutions, Age of .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Brown, Marshall. The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol. 5, Romanticism. Cambridge, U.K., 2000.

. Preromanticism. Stanford, 1991.

Butler, Marilyn. Romantics, Rebels and Reactionaries: English Literature and its Background, 17601830. New York and Oxford, 1982.

Elias, Norbert. The Civilizing Process. Translated by Edmund Jephcott. Oxford, 1994.

Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences. New York, 1973.

Frei, Hans W. The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative: A Study in Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Hermeneutics. New Haven and London, 1974.

Hegel, G. W. F. Aesthetics: Lectures on Fine Art. Translated by T. M. Knox. Oxford, 1975.

Hilles, Frederick W., and Harold Bloom. From Sensibility to Romanticism: Essays Presented to Frederick A. Pottle. London, Oxford, and New York, 1965.

Levine, Joseph M. The Battle of the Books: History and Literature in the Augustan Age. Ithaca, N.Y., and London, 1991.

Simpson, David. "The French Revolution." In The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism. Vol. 5, Romanticism, edited by Marshall Brown, pp. 4971. Cambridge, U.K., 2000.

. Romanticism, Nationalism and the Revolt against Theory. Chicago and London, 1993.

David Simpson

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romanticism

romanticism, term loosely applied to literary and artistic movements of the late 18th and 19th cent.

Characteristics of Romanticism

Resulting in part from the libertarian and egalitarian ideals of the French Revolution, the romantic movements had in common only a revolt against the prescribed rules of classicism. The basic aims of romanticism were various: a return to nature and to belief in the goodness of humanity; the rediscovery of the artist as a supremely individual creator; the development of nationalistic pride; and the exaltation of the senses and emotions over reason and intellect. In addition, romanticism was a philosophical revolt against rationalism.

Romanticism in Literature

England

Although in literature romantic elements were known much earlier, as in the Elizabethan dramas, many critics now date English literary romanticism from the publication of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads (1798). In the preface to the second edition of that influential work (1800), Wordsworth stated his belief that poetry results from "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," and pressed for the use of natural everyday diction in literary works. Coleridge emphasized the importance of the poet's imagination and discounted adherence to arbitrary literary rules.

Such English romantic poets as Byron, Shelley, Robert Burns, Keats, Robert Southey, and William Cowper often focused on the individual self, on the poet's personal reaction to life. This emphasis can also be found in such prose works as the essays of Charles Lamb and William Hazlitt and in Thomas De Quincey's autobiographical Confessions of an English Opium Eater (1822). The interest of romantics in the medieval period as a time of mystery, adventure, and aspiration is evidenced in the Gothic romance and in the historical novels of Sir Walter Scott. William Blake was probably the most singular of the English romantics. His poems and paintings are radiant, imaginative, and heavily symbolic, indicating the spiritual reality underlying the physical reality.

Germany

In Germany the Sturm und Drang school, with its obsessive interest in medievalism, prepared the way for romanticism. Friedrich Schlegel first used the term romantic to designate a school of literature opposed to classicism, and he also applied the philosophical ideas of Immanuel Kant and J. G. Fichte to the "romantic ideal." Major German writers associated with romanticism include G. E. Lessing, J. G. Herder, Friedrich Hölderlin, Schiller, and particularly Goethe, who had a mystic feeling for nature and for Germany's medieval past.

France and Other European Countries

The credo of French romanticism was set forth by Victor Hugo in the preface to his drama Cromwell (1828) and in his play Hernani (1830). Hugo proclaimed the freedom of the artist in both choice and treatment of a subject. The French romantics included Chateaubriand, Alexandre Dumas père, Alphonse de Lamartine, Alfred de Vigny, Alfred de Musset, and George Sand. Other leading romantic figures were Giacomo Leopardi and Alessandro Manzoni in Italy, and Aleksandr Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov in Russia.

The United States

In the United States romanticism had philosophic expression in transcendentalism, notably in the works of Emerson and Thoreau. Poets such as Poe, Whittier, and Longfellow all produced works in the romantic vein. Walt Whitman in particular expressed pride in his individual self and the democratic spirit. The works of James Fenimore Cooper reflected the romantic interest in the historical past, whereas the symbolic novels of Hawthorne and Melville emphasized the movement's concern with transcendent reality.

Romanticism in the Visual Arts

In the visual arts romanticism is used to refer loosely to a trend that appears at any time, and specifically to the art of the early 19th cent. Nineteenth-century romanticism was characterized by the avoidance of classical forms and rules, emphasis on the emotional and spiritual, representation of the unattainable ideal, nostalgia for the grace of past ages, and a predilection for exotic themes.

Romantic artists developed precise techniques in order to produce specific associations in the mind of the viewer. To convey verbal concepts they would, for example, endow inanimate objects with human values (e.g., the wild trees and shimmery moonlight used in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich to suggest an infinity of human longing, the weltschmerz of his time). The result was often sentimental or ludicrous. In the case of Delacroix, however, his painterly style and color sense exalted the romantic attitude in a singularly effective fashion.

In England landscape gardening was used to express the romantic aesthetic by means of deliberate imitation of the picturesque in nature. In architecture Wyatt's preposterous, mock medieval Fonthill Abbey displayed the romantic building style in extreme form. The host of lesser artists of the romantic tradition included the French Géricault, the Swiss-English Henry Fuseli, the Swiss Arnold Böcklin, the English Pre-Raphaelites, the German Nazarenes, and the American artists of the Hudson River school.

Romanticism in Music

Romanticism in music was characterized by an emphasis on emotion and great freedom of form. It attained its fullest development in the works of German composers. Although elements of romanticism are present in the music of Beethoven, Weber, and Schubert, it reached its zenith in the works of Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, and Wagner. Less totally romantic composers usually placed in the middle period of romanticism are Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Dvořák, and Grieg; those grouped in the last phase include Elgar, Puccini, Mahler, Richard Strauss, and Sibelius.

Many romantic composers, including Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin, and Brahms, worked in small forms that are flexible in structure, e.g., prelude, intermezzo, nocturne, ballad, and cappriccio, especially in solo music for the piano. Another romantic contribution was the art song for voice and piano, most notably the German lied (see song). Romantic composers, particularly Liszt, in combining music and literature, created the symphonic poem. Berlioz also made use of literature; much of his work is described as program music. Romantic opera began with Weber, included the works of the Italians Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi, and culminated in the work of Wagner, who aimed at a complete synthesis of the arts in his idea of Gesamtkunstwerk [total work of art].

While Tchaikovsky was inspired by a more universal romanticism, the movement in Russia was nationalist in nature, exemplified by the works of Mikhail Glinka. The music of the Czech composers Bedřich Smetana and Dvořák and that of the Norwegian composer Grieg also expressed romantic nationalism. Toward the end of the 19th cent. interest in classical forms was revived by Bruckner, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Franck. The end of the romantic period—frequently described as decadent and grandiose—is often referred to as postromanticism and is represented by the works of Holst, Elgar, Mahler, and Richard Strauss.

Bibliography

See J. Barzun, Romanticism and the Modern Ego (1944); L. R. Furst, Romanticism in Perspective (1970); R. F. Gleckner and G. E. Enscoe, ed., Romanticism (2d ed. 1970); M. Praz, The Romantic Agony (tr., 2d ed. 1970); I. Berlin, The Roots of Romanticism (1999).

For treatment of romanticism in the visual arts, see K. Clark, The Romantic Rebellion (1974); H. Honour, Romanticism (1979); C. Rosen and H. Zerner, Romanticism and Realism (1984); A. K. Wiedmann, Romantic Roots in Modern Art (1984). In music, see A. Einstein, Music in the Romantic Era (1947); R. M. Longyear, Nineteenth Century Romanticism in Music (1969); P. Conrad, Romantic Opera and Literary Form (1981).

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"romanticism." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Romanticism

Romanticism was a European phenomenon, at its height in Britain from 1785 to 1825, a movement of all the arts, though in England literature and painting predominantly. In its modern sense, the term seems to have originated in Germany, by association with romance languages and the characteristics of medieval romance. For Goethe and Schiller it signalled our alienation from the order and harmony of an earlier classical world, the resultant melancholy one of its most representative tones.

Coleridge used the word in recalling his aims for Lyrical Ballads in 1798. He was to procure a ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ for ‘persons and characters supernatural’. A taste for supernatural terrors had already been exploited by the novelists Horace Walpole and Matthew Lewis. The poets learned from them. Wordsworth's contribution to Lyrical Ballads illustrates another aspect of the Romantic impulse. In the 1800 preface, the manifesto of English Romanticism, he investigated the relationship between language and nature as Herder had done before him, though the German took his inspiration from the supposedly more ‘natural’ genius of the early English writers. Later, constable recommended that the painter seek perfection ‘at its primitive source, nature’. The appeal of the ballad, stimulated by Percy's Reliques (1765), lay in its folk form; the sophisticated Wordsworth imitated its simplicity, but his interest in ‘low and rustic life’ was more than aesthetic. Poetry and politics went hand in hand. Hazlitt suggested that ‘this school of poetry had its origins in the French Revolution, or rather in the sentiments and opinions which produced that revolution’. Blake shared his friend Tom Paine's antipathy to ‘Priestcraft and Tyranny’, and where direct action was suppressed, it surfaced in verse.

In claiming that ‘passion speaks truer than reason’ Hazlitt echoed Rousseau, founding father of the movement with its new emphasis on subjectivity and emotion. ‘The way to all mysteries heads inward’, wrote Brandes in the year Wordsworth chose the growth of his own mind as a subject for epic. In his notebook, Coleridge recorded that ‘in looking at objects of nature … I seem to be seeking a symbolical language for something within me that already and forever exists’.

Increasingly the 18th cent. was dismissed as an age of prose. Blake's quarrel with Sir Joshua Reynolds lent an edge to his work as an engraver, his ‘wiry bounding line’ challenging the ideals of the Academy. Turner followed Wordsworth to the Alps, while his extraordinary Rain, Steam and Speed looks to the future. In arguing that ‘if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to the tree it had better not come at all’, Keats illustrates the cult of spontaneity and of organic metaphor.

The displacement of reason by imagination as the faculty by which the truth is apprehended was a commonplace of the period. Coleridge's famous definition of it as ‘the living power and prime agent of all human perception’ owes a good deal to Kant and Schelling, but there was always a certain native resistance to German metaphysics. The second generation of Romantics had other priorities; Keats questioned Wordsworth's cultivation of ‘the egotistical sublime’, while for Shelley Wordsworth had betrayed the hopes of the Revolution. As that Revolution receded, and young radicals became old Tories, the dynamism of the movement was dispersed or transmuted, though its currents can be felt into the present century.

John Saunders

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"Romanticism." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 13 Dec. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Romanticism

Romanticism. Late-C18 and early C19 artistic forward, including the beak-head, billet, movement, its many variations and strands cable, chevron, double cone, nebule, and defying any neat definition. The one character-reversed zig-zag. istic found throughout its sundry manifestations was the insistence on individual experience, intuition, instinct, and emotion. Commonly perceived as a reaction against the rationalism of the Enlightenment, Classicism, and Neo-Classicism, it nevertheless shared with Classicism reverence for the ideal, transcending reality, hence the term Romantic Classicism applied to works displaying a Romantic response to the Antique. A perfect Ancient Greek temple in its pristine state would be Classical, but a ruined Greek temple, though Classical in one sense, cannot be Classical in another because it is broken, incomplete, partial, and in ruins. Such a ruin might, however, be perceived as beautiful, and so a Classical building constructed as a ‘ruin’ in an C18 garden could be described as an example of Romantic Classicism. Asymmetrical compositions set in the context of the Picturesque often are purely Classical in detail, such as Schinkel's exquisite buildings at Potsdam (Charlottenhof and the Roman Baths complex), and so can be classed as examples of Romantic Classicism.

Form, in Romantic art, was determined by the inner idea within the subject represented, and the yearning for spirituality and inner meaning allied Romanticism with medievalism, Historicism, the Picturesque, the Gothic Revival, and the Sublime. A new tenderness towards the dead, a love of melancholy, and the cultivation of feelings were characteristics of Romanticism, creating elegiac gardens, the first cemeteries, and fuelling the religious revival that was such an important part of C19 European and American culture.

Bibliography

Chilvers, Osborne, & Farr (eds.) (1988);
Clay (1981);
J. Curl (2002a);
Honour (1979);
H. O. (1970);
Jane Turner (1996)

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Romanticism

Romanticism Late 18th- and early 19th-century art movement. Its exponents valued individual experience and intuition, rather than the orderly, concrete universe of classical artists. For this reason, Romantics and classicists are often seen as opposites, but in fact they shared a belief in idealism, as opposed to the exponents of realism and rationalism. An emphasis on nature rather than science was also a characteristic. Leading literary Romantics include Goethe, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Wordsworth, and Schiller. William Blake was both a Romantic poet and artist. Other artists include Delacroix, Caspar David Friedrich, Géricault, Turner, and the US artists of the Hudson River School.

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Romanticism

Romanticism Period of music history lasting from c.1800–1910. It is characterized by the importance given to emotional expression and imagination, in contrast to the restraint and strict forms of the Classical era. Orchestras expanded as composers experimented with unusual and colourful orchestration to express extra-musical influences. Leading romantic composers include Wagner, Berlioz, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Chopin and Liszt.

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romanticism

ro·man·ti·cism / rōˈmantəˌsizəm; rə-/ • n. 1. (often Romanticism) a movement in the arts and literature that originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. 2. the state or quality of being romantic: a quality of romanticism about women that leads to the creation of a pipe-dream fantasy.

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Romanticism

Romanticism a movement in the arts and literature which originated in the late 18th century, emphasizing inspiration, subjectivity, and the primacy of the individual. Romanticism was a reaction against the order and restraint of classicism and neoclassicism, and a rejection of the rationalism which characterized the Enlightenment. Writers exemplifying the movement include Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, and Keats.

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