Discipline: Art

(fl. c. 1790-1830)

Movement in the arts and in artistic theory, developed principally in Germany and England. In English literature, it is mainly associated with the poets William Blake (1757-1827), WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-1850), SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE (1772-1834), LORD BYRON (1788-1824), PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822) and JOHN KEATS (1795-1821). Romantic artists include William Blake (again), Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775-1851) and Caspar David Freidrich (1774-1840).

The artist becomes the central focus of his own work, which is expressive and self-reflexive in tone and subject. Individuality, creative freedom and ORIGINALITY are championed, and an authority which goes with heightened perceptivity and IMAGINATION. Poetry is organic and spontaneous. Rationalism is disfavored, passion and themes of the subconscious advanced.

Romanticism's criteria for poetic language have extended its scope into the modern period: fundamental is Wordsworth's search for a living speech, and distaste for POETIC DICTION, a program which implies linguistic contact between art and life, and a language of poetry in which FIGURES OF SPEECH are functional rather than decorative.

M H Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp (New York, 1953)


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