3.1.1:The Romantic Revival

3.0    Objectives
3.1.    Introduction
3.1.1.    The Romantic Revival
3.1.2.    Impact of French Revolution
          Self Check Questions for 3.1.1. and 3.1.2.
3.2        Preface to Lyrical Ballad
3.2.1    The Genesis of Preface
3.2.2    Aims of the Preface
3.2.3     Definition of Poetry
            Self Check Questions for 3.2.1., 3.2.2., 3.2.3.
3.2.4    Concept of Imagination
3.2.5    Themes and Subject Matter of Poetry
3.2.6    Function of Poetry
3.2.7    Diction of Poetry
          Self Check Questions for 3.2.4., 3.2.5., 3.2.6., 3.2.7.
3.3      Summing up
3.4      Reading List

    It is a fact that the French Revolution, the Napoleonic words and other social and political events did not initiate the Romantic Movement but enriched its content. The term romantic, however, first appeared in the mid seventeenth century English to describe what Chew and Altick called “the fabulous, the extravagant, the factious, and the unreal.” However, by the mid eighteenth century the term came to describe “pleasing” scenes and situation. What followed next was a prevalence of instincts and emotions over rationalism and common sense. It seems that the term romantic as a literary phenomenon was not perceived in the same vain and with the same degree of intensity in different contexts. This resulted in the use of the term to describe different tendencies at different times in different contexts. The same can be said of the term ‘romanticism’.It refers to a theory, a school of thought, and a matter of technique and so on.The poets and the writers not only sought to emancipate themselves from the fetters of neo-classical rules but also experimented with the old forms, revived some of them which went into the oblivion because the neo-classical writers considered them to be vulgar and undignified. In course of such experimentation with forms, revival of form or creations of new forms, following tendencies were noticed:
•    The poet put more emphasis on imagination rather than intellect. They allowed free play of imagination in their poetry. Their free flights of fancy often led them to the strange, unfamiliar and the distant.
•    The infatuation for the remote, the exotic and the mysterious enkindled in the romantic poets a love for the medieval. Just as the writers of the eighteenth century turned to classical writers for inspiration, the poets of the romantic revival turned to medieval age for inspiration. “The essential elements of the romantic spirit are curiosity and the love of beauty, and it is as the accidental effect of these qualities only, that it seeks the Middle Ages, because in the overcharged atmosphere of the Middle Ages there are unworked sources of romantic effect, of a strange beauty to be won by strong imagination out of things unlikely or remote.” (Pater, W…..)
  • They gave free reign to their emotion and passion. They abhorred classical restraint and obsession with reason.
  • Their preoccupation with imagination and emotions made their poetry primarily subjective. This was in contrast with the classical preference for objectivity in poetry. For them poetry was not genuine if it was not personal.
  • Poetry became closer to everyday life of common man. The ‘poetic diction’ of the eighteenth century was rejected as artificial and unnatural.
  • ”Return to nature” was their motto. They turned away from the artificial urban life and found refuge in the country life and nature. They worshipped nature. Love of nature for them meant love of mankind, humanism and a more world view that encompassed the idea of freedom and equality.
 The following table presents the contrast between the neo-classic and the romantic:
 Romantic  Neo-Classical
Emphasis on Imagination  Emphasis on Intellect
Free Play of Emotions and Passions  Restraint and Obsession with Reason
Proximity to the everyday life of common man  Remoteness or aloofness from everyday life
Inspiration sought from country life and nature  Incidents from urban life prevailed
Primarily Subjective  Primarily Objective
Turned to Medieval Age for inspiration  Turned to Classical writers for inspiratio

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