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Chapter III. Romanticism

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1 Chapter III. Romanticism
Focus of Study : Romanticism The Rise of American Romanticism Early Romantics Its Distinct Features Major Literary Achievements Transcendentalism High Romantics

2 III.1. Early Romantics 1. What’s your comprehension of the term “Romanticism”? 2. What are the characteristics of “Romanticism”? 3. The background of the rise of American “Romanticism” and its features?

3 Romanticism This literary trend occurred and developed in Europe and America at the turn of the 18th and 19th centuries. Background: 1760, Industrial Revolution ; , French Revolution ; 1798, Lyrical Ballads (all good poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings).

4 The Characteristics of Romanticism
1. Romanticism was a rebellion against the objectivity of rationalism. For romantics, the feelings, intuitions and emotions were more important than reason and common sense. 2. They emphasized individualism, placing the individual against the group, against authority. They saw the individual at the very center of life and art. 3. They emphasized personal freedom and freedom from formalism, tradition, and conformity.

5 4. They affirmed the inner life of the self, and wanted each person to be free to develop and express his own inner thoughts. 5. They cherished strong interest in the past, especially the medieval. They were attracted by the wild, the irregular, the indefinite, the remote, the mysterious, and the strange. 6. They were interested in variety. They aspired the sublime and the wonderful, and tried to find the absolute, the ideal by transcending the actual.

6 The Rise of American Romanticism
Background: American romanticism stretched from the end of the 18th century to the Civil War in 1861. The buoyant mood of the nation called for a new literary expression, and romanticism answered the call. European influences, of course, also played an important role in forming and promoting the romantic movement in America. The ever-increasing numbers of magazines provided the playground for romantics.

7 Distinct features American romantics tended to moralize, to edify rather than to entertain. American romanticism presented an entirely new experience alien to European culture. The exotic landscape, the frontier life, the westward expansion, the myth of a New Garden of Eden in America, and the Puritan heritage, etc.

8 Major Literary Achievements of Early Romantics
New England poets William Cullen Bryant( ) --America' s earliest naturalist poets called "the American Wordsworth." American people appreciate him because he made American subjects worthy of celebration. A mood of gentle sadness. two dominant themes: death: question of immortality, influence of deism nature: romantic attitude, serene and noble imagination. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ( ) “Fireside poet”, genteel class, conservative and imitative, too refined & simple.

9 Major Novelists James Fenimore Cooper(1789- 1851)
His literary career--an answer to the challenge of his wife. In his fiction he dealt with the themes of wilderness versus civilization, freedom versus law, order versus change, aristocrat versus democrat, and natural rights versus legal rights. The Leatherstocking Tales are five novels set in the early frontier period of American history about the American wilderness. They illustrate the importance of the frontier and the wilderness for the first time in the history of American literature. The central figure Natty Bumppo is a symbol of the American desire for unity with nature. He seems to be related to the deepest meaning of the American national experience of adventure into the wilderness of the American West.

10 Washington Irving ( )-- "the father of American literature," Irving's style can only be described as beautiful, quite lucid, refined and fluent. The musical language attracts critical attention for a long time. Lacks imagination. striking features characterize Irving's writings. A. he avoids moralizing as much as possible, he wrote to amuse and entertain. B. he was good at enveloping his stories in an atmosphere. His characters are true and vivid. C. humor has built itself into the very texture of his writings. D. The finished and musical language and the patent workmanship.

11 Transcendentalism Its Rise
Emerging around 1815, it has a strong connection with English, European and oriental philosophy. Its first and best published statement is Emerson’s Nature, in which he declares that transcendentalism is idealism as appears in 1842. Meanwhile, some New Englanders, not quite happy with the materialistic-oriented life, formed a transcendentalism club to discuss matters of interest to the life of the nation as a whole

12 Major features The transcendentalists placed emphasis on spirit, or the oversoul, as the most important thing in the universe. The oversoul was an all-pervading power for goodness, omnipresent and omnipotent, from which all things came and of which all were a part. Now, this present a new way of looking at the world. Stressed the importance of the individual. To them the individual was the most important element of society. The ideal type of man was the self-reliant individual. People should depend upon themselves for spiritual perfection if they cared to make effort, because the individual soul communed with the oversoul and was therefore divine.

13 3. Offered a fresh perception of nature as symbolic of spirit or God
3. Offered a fresh perception of nature as symbolic of spirit or God. Nature was alive, filled with God’s overwhelming presence. It was the garment of the oversoul. Each object could be viewed as a miniature version of the entire universe. As a cluster of ideas, transcendentalism reoriented American literature in such a decisive way as to bring a body of works, principally by Emerson and Whitman, its proponents, and by Hawthorne and Melville, its skeptical critics. Transcendentalism qualified as an important branch of romanticism.

14 High Romantics American romanticism reached its peak with the appearance of the major authors of the 19th century such as Edgar Allan Poe, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson in poetry, and Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville in fiction. They took their departure from the earlier complacent romantic impulse and created new literary personalities. Except Whitman, other writers presented dark and brooding pictures of the country. Their literary fame has been on the rise since the 20th century and their works have been regarded as classics of American literature. They laid the foundation for a native American literary tradition of conscious art .

15 Study Questions What is the background of Romanticism?
What are the main features of Romanticism? What is the thread of the Leatherstocking Tales ? What is Washington Irving’s contribution to American literature? How do you understand high Modernism?

16 References Andrews, William L. Literary Romanticism in America. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1981. Brown, Lee R. The Emerson Museum: Practical Romanticism and the Pursuit of the Whole. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1997. Grey, Robin. The Complicity of Imagination: The American Renaissance, Contests of Authority, and 17th-Century English Culture. NY: Cambridge UP, 1997.

17 Thank You Very Much for Attending This Lecture

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