Memory, Experience, and Subjectivity in Romance Era English Literature Essay

Memory, Experience, and Subjectivity in Romance Era English Literature Essay

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During the reading of Renaissance era literature the impact of large cultural changes begin to be reflected in more vivid and less empirical ways. The literature of this period makes many claims to how societal forces, and perhaps existence in the “real” world itself corrupts the “being”, as well as inspecting the positives and negatives of a society in which the meaning of the word value has completely changed how it means to exist. With these changes however, I found the Renaissance era to be very interested in this concept of value and existence, and how those forces interact with internal perception. In this essay, I will look to explore how the prose artists as well as the poets explored the concepts of the inner mind in relation to the world. I hope in this paper to illustrate the differences in how perception and the subsequent memories affected the subjectivity of the works, as well as expressed how experience was valued by different writers in the period, contrasting the differences and also highlighting the similarities the come from the fact that this concept was newly explored and a result of a change in what society valued from an individual.
One of the interesting emphases in literature during this period is the importance of the individual, and with that focus in mind, the different ways the world is seen depends on the valuation of that individual. This concept extends past what we see as the “presented” world, the one beings present and perform in (“life’s a stage” and all), to the internal world. One of the great analogues I have found from class is in the discussion of M.H. Abrams’ book The Mirror and the Lamp: romantic theory and the critical tradition, in which literature prior to the Romantics functioned as ...

... middle of paper ... the memory of his youthful visit. And in de Quincey, while we can recount strange dreams, and their impacts, we cannot enter into his visions the same way, as they always will be other experiences to us, no matter how similar of circumstances we may experience. In Keats’ urn however, there is no frame of reference – there is no truth, there is just an impression of a thing that is or is not in existence, and even though the impression existed only in Keats’ mind for all we know, the delivery of it as existing, and being of value for interpretation creates mystery in our mind, allowing us to fill in the blanks as to what any of it may mean. This is what I find the true illumination of the mysteries of memory and perception to be within these examples, and a fine way to bridge the gap between writers that seek to interpret the experience of “being in the world”.

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