English Romanticism started in the 1740s.The
word Romanticism derives from the French word "Romance", which referred to the
vernacular languages derived from Latin and to the works written in those languages. Even
in England there were cycles of "romances" dealing with the adventures of
knights and containing supernatural elements.
attitude or intellectual orientation that characterized many works of literature, painting, music, architecture, criticism, and historiography in Western civilization over a period from the late 18th to the mid-19th century. Romanticism can be seen as a rejection of the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality that typified Classicism in general and late 18th-century Neoclassicism in particular. It was also to some extent a reaction against the Enlightenment and against 18th-century rationalism and physical materialism in general. Romanticism emphasized the individual, the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.
Among the characteristic attitudes of Romanticism were the following: a deepened appreciation of the beauties of nature; a general exaltation of emotion over reason and of the senses over intellect; a turning in upon the self and a heightened examination of human personality and its moods and mental potentialities; a preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure in general, and a focus on his passions and inner struggles; a new view of the artist as a supremely individual creator, whose creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures; an emphasis upon imagination as a gateway to transcendent experience and spiritual truth; an obsessive interest in folk culture, national and ethnic cultural origins, and the medieval era; and a predilection for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the occult, the monstrous, the diseased, and even the satanic.
Literature. Romanticism proper was preceded by several related developments from the mid-18th century on that can be termed Pre-Romanticism. Among such trends was a new appreciation of the medieval romance, from which the Romantic movement derives its name. The romance was a tale or ballad of chivalric adventure whose emphasis on individual heroism and on the exotic and the mysterious was in clear contrast to the elegant formality and artificiality of prevailing Classical forms of literature, such as the French Neoclassical tragedy or the English heroic couplet in poetry. This new interest in relatively unsophisticated but overtly emotional literary expressions of the past was to be a dominant note in Romanticism.
Romanticism in English literature began in the 1790s with the publication of the Lyrical Ballads of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth's "Preface" to the second edition (1800) of Lyrical Ballads, in which he described poetry as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings," became the manifesto of the English Romantic movement in poetry. William Blake was the third principal poet of the movement's early phase in England. The first phase of the Romantic movement in Germany was marked by innovations in both content and literary style and by a preoccupation with the mystical, the subconscious, and the supernatural. A wealth of talents, including Friedrich Hölderlin, the early Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Jean Paul, Novalis, Ludwig Tieck, A.W. and Friedrich Schlegel, Wilhelm Heinrich Wackenroder, and Friedrich Schelling belong to this first phase. In Revolutionary France, the Vicomte de Chateaubriand and Mme de Staël were the chief initiators of Romanticism, by virtue of their influential historical and theoretical writings.
The second phase of Romanticism, comprising the period from about 1805 to the 1830s, was marked by a quickening of cultural nationalism and a new attention to national origins, as attested by the collection and imitation of native folklore, folk ballads and poetry, folk dance and music, and even previously ignored medieval and Renaissance works. The revived historical appreciation was translated into imaginative writing by Sir Walter Scott, who invented the historical novel. At about this same time English Romantic poetry had reached its zenith in the works of John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
A notable by-product of the Romantic interest in the emotional were works dealing with the /bcom/eb/article/3/0,5716,1323+1+1322,00.htmlsupernatural, the weird, and the horrible, as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and works by C.R. Maturin, the Marquis de Sade, and E.T.A. Hoffmann. The second phase of Romanticism in Germany was dominated by Achim von Arnim, Clemens Brentano, J.J. von Görres, and Joseph von Eichendorff.
By the 1820s Romanticism had broadened to embrace the literatures of almost all of Europe. In this later, second, phase, the movement was less universal in approach and concentrated more on exploring each nation's historical and cultural inheritance and on examining the passions and struggles of exceptional individuals. A brief survey of Romantic or Romantic-influenced writers across the Continent would have to include Thomas De Quincey, William Hazlitt, and the Brontë sisters in England; Victor Hugo, Alfred de Vigny, Alphonse de Lamartine, Alfred de Musset, Stendhal, Prosper Mérimée, Alexandre Dumas (Dumas Père), and Théophile Gautier in France; Alessandro Manzoni and Giacomo Leopardi in Italy; Aleksandr Pushkin and Mikhail Lermontov in Russia; José de Espronceda and Ángel de Saavedra in Spain; Adam Mickiewicz in Poland; and almost all of the important writers in pre-Civil War America.
English Romanticism can be seen as a creative period in which, owing to the radical changes taking place in the historical and social spheres, the cultural view of the world had to be reconstructed or totally readjusted. The attitudes of many Romantic writers were responses to the French and the Industrial Revolution The remarkable expansion of industry and economy made its effects felt in the field of economic theory which greatly flourished in the period. Adam Smith's The wealth of Nations (1776) was a seminal book in the development of the theory of laissez faire policies. It advocated no interference from the government in economic activities and supported the idea that efficiency and profit are absolute goods, thus widening the gap between the affluent layers of society and the poor.
English Romanticism is best represented by poetry, which was more suitable to the expression of emotional experiences, individual feeling and imagination. The great English Romantic poets are usually grouped into two generations: the first, represented by William Blake, William Wordsworth and S. Taylor Coleridge; while the poets of the second generation were John Keats, P. Bysshe Shelley and G. Gordon Byron. No two writers were Romantic in the same way, nor was a writer necessarily romantic in all his work or throughout his life. These poets did not share a unity of purpose, so we cannot speak of a literary movement; they certainly shared some ideas but they all remained highly individual in their philosophy. Nor did a real break in continuity exist between the first and the second generation, while the works of many Victorian writers, especially the
Brontes, R.L. Stevenson, B. Stoker, Tennyson and Rossetti remind us of the key concepts of Romanticism. Anyway, some elements are more typical of the first
generation and others of the second. The poets of the 1st generation were characterized by the attempt to theorize about poetry, they fervently supported the French Rev. with its ideals of freedom and equality, being later bitterly disappointed by the regime of terror and the Napoleonic wars in which the experience of the French Rev. resulted, and by the results of the Industrial Rev. which would lead them to adopt conservative views in the last periods of their lives. The poets of the second generation instead all died very young and away from home, in Mediterranean countries, especially Italy; they also experiencedpolitical disillusionment, which results in the clash between the ideal and reality in their poetry. Poetry thus became a means to challenge the cosmos, nature, political and social order, or to escape from all this. Individualism, the alienation of the artist from society, escapism were stronger in this generation and found expression in the different attitudes of the three poets: the anti-conformist, rebellious and cynical attitude of the "Byronic hero", the revolutionary spirit of Shelleys "Prometheus" and Keatss escape into the world of the past or of classical beauty.