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February 9, 2007

EL312: Consider the romantics

While it might seem pointless to some to define the Romantic period, I think it's probably a good thing to consider, what with all this historical- and author-based criticism floating about.

Keat's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" hails from what The (ill-paginated) Bedford calls the "second generation" romantics. (Others include Byron, Gordon, and Shelley--famous people you already know if you're an English major.)

The "first generation," however, is composed by the works of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Blake, Austen, and Scott (421).

The whole romantic period is said to have started with Wordsworth and Coleridge's publication Lyrical Ballads in 1798. (This volume includes one of my favorite poems, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.") The Bedford cites that some scholars say the period might have begun before then, with other particularly Gothic works (by writers like Radcliffe, Godwin, and Wollstonecraft--who later became Mary Shelley, wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, author of Frankenstein) (421).

I think it's important to know the period in which the literature we study was written. Knowing basic attributes of works from the romantic period can help us to remember the history as well which, as we've been discussing in our author intent extravaganza, is almost necessary when even beginning to look at an author. It seems to me that author and history go hand-in-hand.

The Bedford tells us

the romantics valued imagination and feelings as highly as reason and intellect; believed that humans are by nature good; felt that Nature is the source of sublime feeling, diving inspiration, and even moral action; celebrated the individual rather than the social order and, indeed, critiqued oppressive, class-based political regimes and social forms; and rejected many of the artistic rules, forms, and conventions associated with classicism and neoclassicism, considering them to be aesthetic forms of repression... detrimental to the individual artist's calling. (422)

Murfin and Ray, Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at February 9, 2007 9:36 PM


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