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EL 102 The Romantic Period ( ) 1.Historical Background

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1 EL 102 The Romantic Period (1798-1832) 1.Historical Background
2.Social and Intellectual Developments 3.Literature

2 Historical Background
French Revolution (1789) –Course Reader, page 75. Marked by the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the storming of the Bastille to release imprisoned political offenders, evoked enthusiastic support from English liberals and radicals alike. Two influential books indicate the radical social thinking stimulated by the Revolution: Tom Paine Rights of Man ( ) William Goodwin Inquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793) also: Mary Wollestonecraft (1790) – A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1793): A Vindication of the Rights of Women


4 Historical Background
In his Prelude, Wordsworth wrote the classic description of the intoxicating spirit of the early 1790s: “France standing on the top of golden hours And human nature seeming born again” The subsequent developments of the F.R. (Accession to power by Jacobin extremists, the September Massacres, Reign of Terror, emergence of Napoleon) disappointed English supporters.



7 Historical Background
1832- First Reform Bill (end of the Romantic period) Course Reader, page 77 Reform Bill inaugurated the Victorian era of catious readjustment of political power to the economic and social realities of a new industrial age.

8 Social and Intellectual Developments
Change from a primarily agricultural society, where wealth and power had been concentrated in the landholding aristocracy, to a modern industrial nation. Industrial Revolution: the shift in manufacturing that resulted from the invention of power-driven machinery to replace hand labor (began in mid 18th century –with improvements in machines for processing textiles). CR, page 75-76 New classes: manufacturing rather than agriculture

9 Social and Intellectual Developments
Industrial Revolution: The large-scale transformation of modes of production from muscle power to machine power Began around 1760 Largely a British phenomenon until after the 1820s Key developments Steam power Textile industry (cotton)

10 Spinning mule, England (West Yorkshire), 1930s


12 Effects of the Industrial Revolution

13 Effects of the Industrial Revolution


15 Part of a general cultural reaction against the Enlightenment
Romanticism Part of a general cultural reaction against the Enlightenment Devaluation of reason Medieval revival, return to the past Horror, awe and the sublime Cult of nature (critical of industrialization) Folklore and nationalism Passion, emotions, imagination Against classicism and rationalism Ordinary, everyday language in many poems

16 Jean-Honoré Fragonard
The Swing, 1767

17 John Constable, The Hay-Wain,1821

18 James Ward, Gordale Scar, 1811–13

19 J.M.W. Turner, Snow Storm, Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps, 1812

20 J.M.W. Turner, Rain, Steam and Speed: The Great Western Railway, before 1844

21 Literature Preface to the Lyrical Ballads (1798)
Wordsworth undertook to justify the new poetry by a critical manifesto or statement of poetic principles, in the form of an extended Preface to the second edition of Lyrical Ballads in 1800, which he enlarged still further in the third edition of 1802. set himself in opposition to the previous age (neoclassical), who, in his view, imposed on poetry artificial conventions that distorted its free and natural development.

22 The concept of poetry and the poet (page 79)
Course Reader, page Wordsworth defined good poetry not merely as the overflow but as “the spontaneous overflow” of feelings. CR, page 107. (from the Preface to the Lyrical Ballads) Compare with the neoclassical poet (objective, acting as a spokesperson for the public)

23 Romantic “Nature Poetry”
Natural scene has become a primary poetic subject Compare to neoclassical understanding of nature (CR, page 81).

24 Democratization of poetry
The glorification of the commonplace In two lectures on Wordsworth, Hazlitt declared that the school of poetry founded by W. was the literary equivalent of the French revolution: “Kings and queens were dethroned from their rank and station in legitimate tragedy or epic poetry, as they were decapitated elsewhere... From The Preface to the Lyrical Ballads: The aim: “to choose incidents and situations from common life” and to use “ a selection of language really spoken by men” for which the source and model is “humble and rustic life.” And in his own practice, as Hazlitt also noted, W. went even further, and turned for the subjects of his serious poems not only to humble people but to the ignominious, the outcast, the delinquent

25 A new poetic function: Making the familiar unfamiliar
Wordsworth’s aim in Lyrical Ballads was not to represent the actual world, but, as he announced in his Preface, to throw over “situations from common life... a certain coloring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect His aim throughout is to shake us out of the lethargy of custom so as to refresh our sense of wonder –indeed, of divinity –in the everyday, the commonplace, the trivial, and the lowly” (CR, 83).

26 A new poetic function: Making the familiar unfamiliar
About Worsdworth, Coleridge remarked: “To combine the child’s sense of wonder and novelty with the appearances, which every day for perhaps forty years had rendered familiar.... This is the character and privilege of genius” and its prime service is to awaken in the reader “freshness of sensation” in the representation of “familiar objects” (CR, 83). Shelley: “Poetry reproduces the common universe” but “purges from our inward sight the film of familiarity which obscures from us the wonder of our being” and “creates anew the universe, after it has been blunted by reiteration”. e.g.: “Frost At Midnight” by Coleridge: he showed how well he could achieve the effect of wonder in the familiar.

27 The Supernatural and ‘Strangeness in Beauty’ in Literature
Frank violation of natural laws and the ordinary course of events, in poems of which ‘the incidents and the agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural”. e.g. “Ancient Mariner,” “Christabel,” “Kubla Khan” by Coleridge: he opened up to poetry the realm of mystery and magic, in which materials from ancient folklore, superstition, and demonology are used to impress upon the reader the sense of the working of occult powers and unknown modes of being. Such poems are usually set in distant past or in faraway places or both (Kubla Khan....) exploits the exoticism both of the Middle Ages and of the Orient. another example: “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” by John Keats: adapted the old forms of ballad .... And established a medieval setting for events that violate our sense of realism and the natural order. “medieval revival”

28 The “gothic” constitution and the gothic cathedral

29 The Supernatural and ‘Strangeness in Beauty’ in Literature
Blake, Wordsworth, and Coleridge in their poetry explored visionary states of consciousness that are common among children but violate the standard categories of adult judgment. Coleridge was interested in mesmerism (hypnotism). And like Blake and Shelley, studied the literature of the occult and the esoteric. Coleridge and DeQuincey: shared a concern with dreams and nigthmares, both authors exploited in their writings the heightened consciousness and distorted perceptions they experienced under their addiction to opium. Byron: fascination of the forbidden and the appeal of the terrifying Satanic hero.

30 Individualism and nonconformity in literature
İndividualism, infinite striving and nonconformity. Emphasis on human potentialities and powers. Greater part of the 18th century: people were viewed as limited beings in a strictly ordered and essentially unchanging world. Avoid extremes, respect for the precedents, distrust of radical innovation In Romantics, most prominent was the rejection of a central eighteenth-century concept of the mind as a mirrorlike recipient of a universe already created, and its replacement by the new concept of the mind as itself the creator of the universe it perceives. (CR, 85) Blake: “Less than everything cannot satisfy men.”

31 Isolated, (self)-exile figures in literature
18th century: dealth with men as members of an organized, and usually urban society (regarded themselves as integral parts). Some Romantic writers, on the other hand, deliberately isolated themselves from society in order to give scope to their individual vision. Coleridge, Byron, Shelley: the theme of exile, of the disinherited mind that cannot find a spirtiual home in its native land and society or anywhere in the world. The solitary Romantic nonconformist was sometimes also a great sinner. Coleridge and W. lived outside London Shelley lived in Italy

32 The “familiar” essay The familiar essay: a commentary on a non-technical subject written in a relaxed and intimate manner –flourished, and in a fashion that to some degree paralleled the course of Romantic poetry. Three essayists: Lamb, Hazlitt, De Quincey (like the poets, they were personal and subjective, their essays are often candidly autobiographical, reminiscent, self-analytic, and when the writers treated other matters than themselves, they tended to do so impressionistically.

33 Novel Gothic novel, first example (1764), Horace Walpole Castle of Otranto The term derives from the frequent setting of these tales in a floomy castle of the Middle Ages, but it has been extended to a larger group of novels, set somewhere in the past, which exploit the possibilities of mystery and terror in sullen, craggy landcapes, decaying mansions with dark dungeons, secret passages, and stealthy ghost; chilling supernatural phenomena; and often, persecution of a beautiful maiden by an obsessed and haggard villain. These novels opened up to later fiction the dark, irrational side of human nature. Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Ann Radcliffe

34 Other important works Mary Shelley. Frankenstein The Romantic period produced two major novelists, Jane Austen ( ) and Sir Walter Scott ( ) Austen: nonpolitical, portrays the life of provincial English gentlefolk- getting married Scott: opening up to fiction the rich and lovely realm of history, portraying lower class characters

35 The Lamb (Songs of Innocence, 1789)
William Blake Many of the innocence songs have their counterparts in the experience section. The Lamb (Songs of Innocence, 1789) The Tiger (Songs of Experience, 1794)

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