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Romantic English Literature. Historical background A revolutionary energy was at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform.

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Presentation on theme: "Romantic English Literature. Historical background A revolutionary energy was at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform."— Presentation transcript:

1 Romantic English Literature

2 Historical background A revolutionary energy was at the core of Romanticism, which quite consciously set out to transform not only the theory and practice of literature, but the very way people perceive the world. French Revolution --- the storming of Bastille --- Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity --- Jean-Jacques Rousseau: glorify human nature; claim for social democracy

3 French Revolution

4 Bastill e

5 Population shifts Industrial revolution --- increasing merchanization; development of industry --- economic depression --- disparity between the rich and the poor --- Luddite riots: workers’ disturbances

6 Cultural background The Romantic Movement: negative attitude towards the existing social and political conditions. Core --- reaction against neoclassicism Time ~ : Lyrical Ballads (William Wordsworth, S.T. Coleridge) 1832: the death of Sir Walter Scott; the passage of the Reform Bill Manifesto --- Lyrical Ballads

7 Lyrical Ballads Walter Scott

8 Characteristics of Romanticism Imagination Idealization of Nature Individualism Glorification of the commonplace The lure of the exotic

9 Imagination Man is all imagination, God is man and exists in us and we in him…All things exist in the human imagination. (William Blake) Imagination: the supreme faculty of the mind (dynamic and active) Imagination can change and create Imagination can unify different elements into a complex whole.

10 Example: Kubla Khan (Coleridge) It is about a dream the poet had one evening. Kublan Khan is the great emperor in the Yuan Dynasty. Suggested poems: William Blake: “The Tyger” S. T. Coleridge: “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

11 Nature Yet having felt the power of nature, by the gentle agency of natural objects, led me on to feel the passions that were not my own. (Wordsworth) Different perspectives about nature: -- a healing power; -- a source of subject and image; -- a refuge from the artificial constructs of civilization. Describing natural phenomena Capturing “sensuous nuance” Nature poetry: one of meditation

12 Individualism I must create my own system or be enslaved by another man’s. (William Blake) Middle ages: emphasize on God; man lived chiefly for the future world Renaissance period: man is the center of all concern; emphasized on the dignity of man and the importance of the present life Enlightenment: saw man as social man; the general or universal characteristics of human behavior were more suitable subject matter

13 Romanticism: Saw man as an individual in the solitary state Emphasized the special qualities of each individual’s mind “I am not made like anyone I have seen; I dare believe that I am not made like anyone in existence. If I am not superior, at least I am different.” (Rousseau) Value the exploration and evaluation of the inner self

14 A prominence of first-person lyric poem “I” – the direct person of the poet example: Prelude (Wordsworth) A change of direction from attention to the outer world of social civilization to the inner world of the human spirit Suggested poems: Wordsworth: Prelude Byron: Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

15 The Lure of the Exotic Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey: lived by the riverside Byron and Shelley: self-imposed exile Expanded the imaginary horizons spatially and chronologically: -- the Middle Ages -- images of distant places Allow free play to the supernatural

16 Suggested poems: Wordsworth: Lucy Grey, The Solitary Reaper, It is a Beauteous Evening Milton: “London, 1802” George Gordon, Lord Byron: Maid of Athens, Adieu, Adieu, Man and Nature

17 Literary features Poetry --- Pre-romanticism: William Blake, Robert Burns --- Lakers (the first generation): Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey --- Revolutionary poets (the second generation) Byron, Shelley, Keats

18 William Blake Tyger, Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye Could frame thy fearful symmetry? --- from “The Tyger”

19 1. Point of view Politically Blake was a rebel, making friends with those radicals. Literarily Blake was the first important romantic poet, showing contempt for the rule of reason, opposing the classical tradition of the 18 th century, and treasuring the individual’s imagination.

20 3. Writing features Blake writes his poems in plain an direct language. He presents his view in visual images rather than abstract ideas. Symbolism in wide range is a distinctive feature of his poetry.

21 Wordsworth --- poetry is spontaneous --- nature inspires poetry --- common subjects can be poetic (the world of simple, natural things, in the countryside or among the people) Coleridge --- the strange, the exotic, the mysterious --- the combination of the natural with the supernatural, the ordinary with the extraordinary

22 Byron --- revolt against society --- a prototype of romantic hero, “Byronic hero” Shelley --- the external tyranny is the main enemy --- inherent human goodness will eliminate evil from the world and usher in an eternal reign of love

23 Keats --- a response to sensuous impressions --- love of nature and art, a compassion for humanity

24 Novel --- Jane Austen: love and marriage --- Walter Scott: historical novels Prose --- newspapers, magazines, and periodicals --- Lamb, Hazlitt, De Quincey

25 William Wordsworth ---“All good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” ---Wordsworth “endeavored to bring language near to the real language of man”.

26 According to the subject matters, Wordsworth’s short poems can be divided into two groups: the poems of nature and the poems about human life. He is a poet of nature and a master hand in searching and revealing the feelings of the common people. “a worshipper of nature” Common life --- the only subject of literary interest

27 Poetic career Lyrical Ballads --- simple language --- sympathy with the poor --- fusion of natural description with expressions of inward states of mind

28 “Lucy” poems --- harmony between humanity and nature The Prelude --- spiritual record of his mind and his philosophy of life


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