English Romanticism



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English Romanticism
To express the difference between Augustan or Neoclassical Age and the Romanticism the metaphors of the mirror and the lamp were used. In fact before the 18th century the creative process was based on the imitation of the external and universal truth, like a mirror which reflects the object by using the reason. After the 18th century, during the Romanticism the art started basing on the creation of the individual and inner truth by using the imagination, like a lamp which makes a contribution to the objects that it perceives. So it’s defined the shift from the witty imitation of classical models to the subjective search for new patterns. In the Augustan Age man, society and all things were conceived immutable and obeying to a mechanistic process. Reason was the supreme faculty by which them were knowable. The new spirit of Romanticism championed the elements which the Augustan Age had devaluated: imagination, the individual and nature. The industrial Revolution had a big impact on the society by creating a mass-organization and regimentation of the individual. In this new environment man feel a sense of estrangement. So he perceived nature as an organic structure endowed with its life and admired its wilderness and simplicity, opposed to the complications of the urban life. The artist used nature to be inspired, to excite his emotions and to be brought into contact with the absolute and the divine. So a pantheistic concept of nature spread. The French Revolution had awaken the individual consciousness to new values and ideals to attain improvement and welfare and to destroy any kind of injustice. For the romantic artist the main feature of man was the imagination which express the awakening of the individual and by which the artist became an active creator, stopping the mere imitation. In this creative process the artist felt the necessity to overcome the limits of human nature and social conventions, showing a titanic attitude. In addition an other element of this period was the revolution of the Middle Ages during which national identities and national literature started developing religious feeling emerged and the appreciation of old stories surrounded by mystery had origin. Moreover taste for exotic and unusual and for the supernatural as a condition beyond human limits towards the infinite and the absolute spread. The English romantic poets are divided into two generations. The poets of the first generation as Wordsworth and Coleridge greeted with enthusiasm the French Revolution and wrote poetries to arouse the individual consciousness and to purify vision of life. The poets of the second generation as Lord Byron and Shelley travelled around the Europe to highlight their opposition to contemporary society, its conventions and rules. They carried to an extreme their emotions and imagination, their idea of freedom and rebellion and took refuge in an exclusive cult of beautiful. William Blake, isolated from the other poets, had a too extreme vision of an absolute integration of man to be fully understood.