Pre romanticism characteristics and works

Pre romanticism

Pre romanticism is a literary movement developed throughout Europe, most noticeably at the end of the eighteenth century. As its name indicates, this current was the forerunner of literary Romanticism, a trend that in turn opposed neoclassical literature as a whole. Pre romanticism characteristics and works

The appearance of pre-romanticism brought with it a new form of expression, coupled with a new way of thinking. From its emergence there was an idealistic thought that generated a 180 degree turn to what already existed, thus beginning a more explicit, expressive, and passionate literature.


Pre-Romanticism has its origin in the 18th century, specifically in Europe. It was known and went down in history as a literary movement that occurred between Neoclassicism and Romanticism. First Germany and England saw it born, then it spread to Spain, Italy, and France.


This literary movement presented different aspects to those of Neoclassicism, among which the following can be mentioned: Pre romanticism characteristics and works

Feelings as avant-garde

This move put reason aside and made emotions relevant. The writers were carried away by what they felt no matter how strong was what they had inside.

He put aside the impositions of Neoclassicism

By rejecting the rules of Neoclassicism, there was more freedom to express himself, and, therefore, the writer exposed his lyrics with greater naturalness and spontaneity. All this, of course, following the guidelines established by this literary trend.

The spaces in the storylines were dark

For the development of his works, Pre-Romanticism chose spaces charged with mystery as settings. Quite the opposite of the use of serene nature that Neoclassicism used.

Freedom as a premise

Pre romanticism defended the right to freedom as a necessary value for the development of the human being.

It gave way to the enrichment of the different languages

This literary movement brought with it new expressions and words. He made constant and repeated use of certain words, which was an insistent example of the revolution that the writers generated in each of their works.

Outstanding authors and their works

Pre-Romanticism, as expressed in previous lines, had its birth in Europe. So he toured different countries on this continent, and influenced many illustrious writers of the time. Among those who stood out: Pre romanticism characteristics and works

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Rousseau was the Swiss representative of this literary genre. He was born in the city of Geneva on June 28, 1712, and died in 1778. He was noted for being a philosopher, writer, musician, botanist and naturalist. He was considered the first writer of Pre romanticism and the predecessor of Romanticism.

One of his most outstanding works was  El Adivino del Pueblo, an opera that premiered on October 18, 1752, in the presence of King Louis XV. Another of his most relevant works was Discourse on the origin and foundations of men’s inequality.  In this text the author made reference to the types of inequality.

Rousseau’s list is completed by the novel Julia or the New Eloise published in 1761. It tells the love story that arises between two people from different social classes. There are also  Emilio, or Education , its content is mostly philosophical and deals with man and society.

Thomas Chatterton

Represented pre-romanticism from Great Britain. He was born on November 20, 1752 in Bristol and died in London on August 24, 1770. Among his most outstanding works was  Memoirs of a Sad Dog , sarcastic writing. Pre romanticism characteristics and works

Louis-Sébastien Mercier

He was born in Paris in 1740, and died on April 25, 1814. He was a pupil of Rousseau; Besides being a writer, he was also a critic and playwright. Among his works are  Mesa de Paris,  which referred to the customs of France, the poem El Genio , and Virginia, a drama written in 1767.

Madame de Staël

She was the main female representative of pre-romanticism in France. Her real name was Anne Louise Germaine Necker. He was born in Paris on April 22, 1766; he died in the same city in 1817. His political ideas were advanced for the time, in addition to being considered a daring within society.

Delfina and Corina are his greatest works. The first was written in 1802, while the second in 1807. Both belong to the novel genre, and their content was based on the social limitations to which women of their time were victims.

Manuel Jose Quintana

He was a Spanish poet who was born in the city of Madrid in 1772 and died on March 11, 1857. Most of his works cover political and moral themes. Pelayo, El Duque de Viseo and Las Reglas del Drama are just some of his works as a writer.

Jose Cadalso

Represented Spain. His works were written under the nickname of Dalmiro. The city of Cádiz saw him born on October 8, 1741. He died in 1782. His works ranged through prose and poetry. Ocios de mi Juventud, La Numantina and Solaya head his repertoire of writings.

Vittorio Alfieri

He is the most prominent representative of pre-romanticism in Italy. His life passed between 1749 and 1803. Antonio and Cleopatra, Agamemnon , Virginia , Don García , Orestes and María Stuarda are his most relevant works.

Representatives from other countries

Scandinavia, Germany and Russia also had representatives in this literary genre.

E n the case of the first highlighted Johannes Ewald, who was poet and playwright; his writing La Muerte de Bálder in 1774 was his closest work to pre- romanticism .

For Germany were Johann Wolfgang von Goethe   and Johan Gottfried Herder. The first is the most prominent and well-known of German literature; his main works were: Goetz de Berlinchingen , Clavijo,  Prometheus , and the novel Las Cuitas del Joven Werther .     

Other representatives of pre-romanticism were also: Ugo Foscolo, Edward Young, Thomas Gray, William Cowper, Horace Walpole, François-René de Chateaubriand, James Macpherson, Friedrich Schiller, Alberto Lista, José Marchena, Ippolito Pindemonte and Jacques-Henri Bernardin de Saint- Pierre, great representatives who left their mark. Pre romanticism characteristics and works

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