Romantic period in English literature summary with characteristics


Cultural and artistic movement that began at the end of the 18th century. In this article we will provide you the information about the Romantic period in English literature summary.

Romanticism is a cultural and artistic movement that began in the late 18th century and reached its peak between approximately 1820 and 1850 .

The first manifestations of romanticism, considered pre-romantic, can be located in the middle of the 18th century, coinciding with neoclassicism . These correspond to the English poetics of the sublime, the German literary movement Sturm und Drang, and the philosophical circle known as the Jena school.

Romantic thought arose in opposition to the rationalism prevailing in Europe throughout the Modern Age , but especially under the influence of the Enlightenment . The romantics sought to reflect, from the subjectivity of the artist, the aspects of life most linked to emotions .

Historical context of romanticism

Romanticism developed in the context of the changing society of the 19th century :

  • In Europe, after the crisis of the old regime after the French Revolution , the failure of the Napoleonic project and the monarchical restorations caused a feeling of disappointment in society .
  • Increasing industrialization resulted in a massive population mobilization from rural to urban areas. In the rapidly growing cities, the bourgeoisie took hold as a rising social class.
  • The first movements of industrial workers began to manifest themselves , seeking to improve their working conditions.
  • Independence struggles took place in territories occupied by foreign powers, such as Italy, Greece and the Spanish-American countries.

In this context of accelerated changes, a society disenchanted with the immediately previous but also curious historical processes was formed, interested in travel, novelty, foreign cultures, the different and the exotic as a way of escaping the present.

Characteristics of romanticism

The main characteristics of romanticism as a cultural and artistic movement are the following:

  • Unlike other movements such as neoclassicism, which sought to reflect universal values, romanticism emphasized the personal and individual aspects of the artist.
  • They appeared new values linked to the artistic. For example, the traditional relationship between art and beauty was opposed by a new conception of values ​​such as expressiveness, originality, sensitivity, picturesqueness and even ugliness. These values ​​were based on a supposed more direct connection with people’s real lives .
  • He contrasted to the classicist concept of ideal beauty the conception of beauty as a subjective judgment, therefore, individual and changing.
  • The concept of sublimity was incorporated : the sublime is the category that describes phenomena that frighten, frighten and amaze at the same time, such as a storm at sea or the immensity of the starry sky.
  • As a consequence of the search for individual expression and originality, the thematic and formal conventions of art academies were abandoned. Artists began to value the search for freedom , both expressive and personal as well as collective.
  • New topics related to the expression of emotions and feelings gained importance Among them, the landscape interpreted by the artist’s subjectivity, spiritual, literary and mythological themes, popular traditions and, in general, those that gave freedom to the artist’s imagination.
  • Instead of the exploits of the great historical heroes, the heroic actions of ordinary characters and the suffering of the victims began to be valued as pictorial and narrative themes.
  • The consolidation of the political form of the nation-state in Europe led the artists to rescue those features that they considered proper to their national roots. This manifested itself in an interest in local histories and the medieval past . In architecture, for example, the forms of the Gothic were valued and recovered .
  • New characters appeared , such as women, children and the people (a concept used to describe society), conceived as representatives of a purer irrationality linked to a natural state .
  • Faced with the growing urbanization and industrialization of the 19th century society, nature was conceived as a refuge for the most authentic and purest values. A perception of nature as the realm of freedom and the limitless spread among artists.

Literary romanticism

Literature was the discipline in which the first romantic manifestations took place .

The writers preferred local languages as well as incorporating popular traditions . The novel was one of the most representative genres when describing the world without idealization . The emergence of an interest for the national and for the past favored the appearance of the historical novel.

The publication of works in periodic installments was popularized, and in this way the dissemination of literature became massive.

Musical romanticism

Musical romanticism spanned most of the 19th century. Music, in general, adopted the ideals of autonomy of the romantic culture, that is to say that it detached itself from a specific function to become a manifestation of the composer’s emotions. Composers explored new free , expressive and imaginative forms In addition, popular themes and political content were incorporated into the great compositions 

Advances in the Industrial Revolution made musical instruments better and cheaper. At the same time, the orchestras expanded to reach a large number of musicians.

Romanticism in painting

In painting, academic impositions were put aside. The use of color took preponderance over drawing to define the elements of the painting.

The painting became more dynamic and expressive, taking Baroque productions as a model .

The artistic freedom of the Romantic artists resulted in the development of well-differentiated tendencies. For example, in Germany, the romanticism influenced by the philosophical ideas of Kant had a more spiritual tendency; while in France the artists were more interested in contemporary political events, such as revolutions and independence struggles, such as the Greek one.

Main artists of romanticism

Some of the main artists of romanticism were the following:

  • In painting :
    • William Blake (1757-1827) .
    • Francisco de Goya y Lucientes (1746-1828) .
    • Théodore Géricault (1791-1824) .
    • Eugéne Délacroix (1798-1863) .
    • John Constable (1776-1837) .
    • Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) .
    • Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) .
  • In music :
    • Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849) .
    • Franz Liszt (1811-1886) .
    • Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) .
    • Franz Schubert (1797-1828) .
  • In literature :
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) .
    • Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) .
    • Mary Shelley (1797-1851) .
    • Alexander Dumas (1802-1870) .
    • Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) .
    • Victor Hugo (1802-1885) .

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