Romanticism is a movement in the arts that flourished in Europe and America throughout much of the 19th century from the period of the French revolution in 1789. Romantic artists’ glorified nature, idealized the past, and celebrated the divinity of creation. There is a fundamental emphasis on freedom of self expression, sincerity, spontaneity and originality. The movement rebelled against classicism, and artists turned to sources of inspiration for subject matter and artistic style. Their treatment of subject was emotional rather than reasonable, intuitive rather than analytical. Among other Romantics, the focus on the human being was manifested in a fascination with the eerie and exotic and with the effects of guilt, evil, isolation, and terror on the human psyche. Romanticism was seen as a revival of the essentially modern, spiritual and fantastic culture of the middle Ages. Romantics were involved in emotional directness of personal experience and individual imagination and aspiration. It was partly a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the Age of Enlightenment and a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature, and was embodied most strongly in the visual arts, music, and literature.
It is one of the curiosities of literary history that the strongholds of the Romantic Movement were England and Germany, not the countries of the romance languages themselves. Thus it is from the historians of English and German literature that we inherit the convenient set of terminal dates for the Romantic period, beginning in 1798, the year of the first edition of Lyrical Ballads by Wordsworth and Coleridge and of the composition of Hymns to the Night by Novalis, and ending in 1832, the y...
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...fficulty of this problem in his seminal article "On The Discrimination of Romanticisms;" some scholars see romanticism as completely continuous with the present, some see it as the inaugural moment of modernity, some see it as the beginning of a tradition of resistance to the Enlightenment, and still others date it firmly to the direct aftermath of the French Revolution.
Romanticism is often understood as a set of new cultural and aesthetic values. It might be taken to include the rise of individualism, as seen by the cult of the artistic genius that was a prominent feature in the Romantic worship of Shakespeare and in the poetry of Wordsworth, to take only two examples; a new emphasis on common language and the depiction of apparently everyday experiences; and experimentation with new, non-classical artistic forms.
Romanticism also strongly valued the past.
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