"A deception that elevates us is dearer than a host of low truths."
Romanticism was a complex artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe. It has very little to do with things popularly thought of as "romantic", such as Romantic Comedy
, although love may occasionally be the subject of Romantic works. Rather, it is the exact counterpoint to the ideas of the Age of Enlightenment
- that being emotion and imagination is superior to that of reason and intellect. Think Dee Dee instead of Dexter
. The individual has a central role in Romantic works; he/she is usually in conflict with the established society and goes through internal turmoil because of this. Character Development
usually occurs. Nature Lover
is very common in Romantic poetry.
The movement is also associated with a newfound interest in Oral Tradition
and folk culture in general. Seen both as a source of inspiration and an object of study. The movement also sought inspiration in The Middle Ages
and other past eras; indeed it drew its name from the Chivalric Romance
. Helping the popularization of Historical Fiction Literature
. On the other hand, Romantic authors were also interested in the intensity of human emotions, fear included. Many of their works fit into the Gothic Horror
genre. A more surprising aspect of the movement was its hero-worship of William Shakespeare
. The long-dead playwright was relatively well known in the British Isles and obscure in the rest of Europe. While Enlightenment critics such as Samuel Johnson, Dryden and Pope had already begun the rediscovery of his works. The Romantics were rather vocal in viewing him as the best of the British authors. They helped revitalize scholarly interest in his works, introduced them to French and German audiences, and drew inspiration from them. This "Bardolatry" continued to have an influence long after the demise of its original proponents.
Writers active in the heyday of Romanticism include John Keats
, Lord Byron
and Percy Shelley
, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
, and William Blake
. In the mid-19th century, just as Romanticism was beginning to wane in Europe, it hit America in a big way, becoming the Transcendentalist movement, leading lights of which include Walt Whitman
and Ralph Waldo Emerson
. Though the "age of Romanticism" is long over, Romantic themes are still common today. Most writers and authors in the Romantic era would not necessarily feel that they were opposed to the Enlightenment either and the likes of Byron and Goethe would certainly believe that they were continuing in the tradition of what came before. In France, the likes of Stendhal
and Honoré de Balzac
prized emotion and reason as inseparable.
Politically, Romanticism had both a positive and negative aspect. It was inspired by what were perceived to be the successes and failures of The French Revolution
and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte
. On one hand people romanticized the idea of a popular revolution, explored the idea of regional and ethnic identity and spread the concept of nationalism, on the other hand people romanticized the revolution, developed a one-dimensional approach to regional and ethnic identity and contributed to the birth of narrow nationalism which led to exclusion of some groups from the dominant idea and likewise believed once again that history is shaped by exceptional men such as Napoleon. Nothing is without its contradictions of course, just like in life and history. Many romantics initially started out as quite radical and progressive before becoming conservative, including Wordsworth whereas other authors like Shelley and Byron never did sell out and remained liberal to their ends. Romanticism had its source in the ugliness of colonialism which thrived during this time, where the Adventure Archaeologist
would constantly "rediscover" earlier cultures but write-off the modern day nations as The Remnant
thereby justifying their continuous economic exploitation of these regions.
Compare Post Modernism
. Related to Individualism; in some ways the predecessor of Symbolism, where the individual is again the central (and in most cases - only) figure, however it's mostly internal conflicts that drive him/her.
Not to be thought of as "romantic" in the sense of "love romance".
Notable Authors of this movement (in chronological order):
Notable Musicians of this movement (in chronological order):