romantic literature in english


  • [37] Though John Keats shared Byron and Shelley’s radical politics, “his best poetry is not political”,[38] but is especially noted for its sensuous music and imagery, along
    with a concern with material beauty and the transience of life.

  • Byron, however, was still influenced by 18th-century satirists and was, perhaps the least “romantic” of the three, preferring “the brilliant wit of Pope to what he called
    the ‘wrong poetical system’ of his Romantic contemporaries”.

  • [9] Some major Gothic poets include Thomas Gray (1716–71), whose Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (1751) is “the best known product of this kind of sensibility”;[10]
    William Cowper (1731–1800); Christopher Smart (1722–71); Thomas Chatterton (1752–70); Robert Blair (1699–1746), author of The Grave (1743), “which celebrates the horror of death”;[11] and Edward Young (1683–1765), whose The Complaint, or Night-Thoughts
    on Life, Death and Immortality (1742–45) is another “noted example of the graveyard genre”.

  • In it Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the “real language of men”, and which avoids the poetic diction of much 18th-century

  • [4] The French Revolution was an especially important influence on the political thinking of many notable Romantic figures at this time as well.

  • [51] More interest has been shown in recent years in Dorothy Wordsworth (1771–1855), William’s sister, who “was modest about her writing abilities, [but] she produced poems
    of her own; and her journals and travel narratives certainly provided inspiration for her brother”.

  • William Hazlitt (1778–1830), friend of both Coleridge and Wordsworth, is another important essayist at this time, though today he is best known for his literary criticism,
    especially Characters of Shakespear’s Plays (1817–18).

  • The greatest actor of the period, Edmund Kean, restored the tragic ending to King Lear;[62] Coleridge said that, “Seeing him act was like reading Shakespeare by flashes of
    lightning.”[63] Wales Wales had its own Romantic movement, especially in Welsh literature (which was rarely translated or known outside Wales).

  • [48] Modern critic Frank Whitehead has said that “Crabbe, in his verse tales in particular, is an important – indeed, a major – poet whose work has been and still is seriously

  • If contemporary poets had little success on the stage, the period was a legendary one for performances of Shakespeare, and went some way to restoring his original texts and
    removing the Augustan “improvements” to them.

  • One of the most important British novelists of the early 19th century was Sir Walter Scott, who was not only highly popular, but “the greatest single influence on fiction
    in the 19th century […] [and] a European figure”.

  • Largely disconnected from the major streams of the literature of his time, Blake was generally unrecognized during his lifetime but is now considered a seminal figure in the
    history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

  • From 1823, the prolific and popular novelist James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) began publishing his historical romances of frontier and Indian life, to create a unique form
    of American literature.

  • The poems in Lyrical Ballads were mostly by Wordsworth, though Coleridge contributed one of the great poems of English literature,[21] the long Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
    a tragic ballad about the survival of one sailor through a series of supernatural events on his voyage through the South Seas, and involves the symbolically significant slaying of an albatross.

  • Byron’s plays, along with dramatizations of his poems and Scott’s novels, were much more popular on the Continent, and especially in France, and through these versions, several
    were turned into operas, many still performed today.

  • The first short stories in the United Kingdom were gothic tales like Richard Cumberland’s “remarkable narrative” The Poisoner of Montremos (1791).

  • Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew’s A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced
    her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become accepted as a major writer.

  • Cooper is best remembered for his numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales, with their emphasis on heroic simplicity and their fervent
    landscape descriptions of an already-exotic mythicized frontier peopled by “noble savages”, exemplified by Uncas, from The Last of the Mohicans (1826) show the influence of Rousseau’s (1712–78) philosophy.

  • Drama[edit] Byron, Keats and Percy Shelley all wrote for the stage, but with little success in England, with Shelley’s The Cenci perhaps the best work produced, though that
    was not played in a public theatre in England until a century after his death.

  • His critical work, especially on Shakespeare, was highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture.

  • The Romantic movement gave rise to New England Transcendentalism, which portrayed a less restrictive relationship between God and Universe.

  • Similarly, Shelley’s 1821 essay A Defence of Poetry displayed a radical view of poetry, in which poets act as “the unacknowledged legislators of the world”, because, of all
    of artists, they best perceive the undergirding structure of society.

  • [20] The early Romantic poets brought a new form of emotionalism and introspection, and their emergence is marked by the first romantic manifesto in English literature, the
    Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1798).

  • Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical
    and mystical undercurrents within his work.

  • [31] Between 1819 and 1824, Byron published his unfinished epic satire Don Juan, which, though initially condemned by the critics, “was much admired by Goethe who translated
    part of it”.

  • [28] A trip to Europe resulted in the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812), a mock-heroic epic of a young man’s adventures in Europe, but also a sharp satire
    against London society.

  • [72] Scott’s novel writing career was launched in 1814 with Waverley, often called the first historical novel, and was followed by Ivanhoe.

  • Other women poets include, Mary Alcock (c. 1742 – 1798) and Mary Robinson (1758–1800), both of whom “highlighted the enormous discrepancy between life for the rich and the
    poor”,[50] and Felicia Hemans (1793–1835), author of nineteen individual books during her lifetime and who continued to be republished widely after her death in 1835.

  • Jane Austen’s works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th-century realism.

  • However, today his contemporary, Jane Austen, is widely read and the source for films and television series, while Scott is comparatively neglected.

  • [17] Romantic poetry[edit] See also: English Romantic sonnets and Romantic poetry The physical landscape is prominent in the poetry of this period.

  • [52] In the past decades, there has been substantial scholarly and critical work done on women poets of this period, both to make them available in print or online, and second,
    to assess them and position them within the literary tradition.

  • [34] His close circle of admirers, however, included the most progressive thinkers of the day, including his future father-in-law, philosopher William Godwin.

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne Romantic Gothic literature made an early appearance with Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820) and Rip Van Winkle (1819); there are picturesque
    “local color” elements in Washington Irving’s essays and especially his travel books.

  • The plot of this is said to have come from a waking dream she had, in the company of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori, following a conversation about galvanism
    and the feasibility of returning a corpse or assembled body parts to life, and on the experiments of the 18th-century natural philosopher and poet Erasmus Darwin, who was said to have animated dead matter.

  • [41] Keats’ letters “are among the finest in English” and important “for their discussion of his aesthetic ideas”, including ‘negative capability'”.

  • [46] George Crabbe (1754–1832) was an English poet who, during the Romantic period, wrote “closely observed, realistic portraits of rural life […] in the heroic couplets
    of the Augustan age”.

  • [8] To this was added by later practitioners, a feeling for the “sublime” and uncanny, and an interest in ancient English poetic forms and folk poetry.

  • [27] Byron achieved enormous fame and influence throughout Europe with works exploiting the violence and drama of their exotic and historical settings.

  • [70] Eventually it became clear that the poems were not direct translations from the Gaelic, but flowery adaptations made to suit the aesthetic expectations of his audience.

  • [44] His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets.

  • “His Romantic image of Wales and its past had a far-reaching effect on the way in which the Welsh envisaged their own national identity during the nineteenth century.

  • Scott achieved immediate success with his long narrative poem The Lay of the Last Minstrel in 1805, followed by the full epic poem Marmion in 1808.

  • [54][55] Landon’s novel forms of metrical romance and dramatic monologue was much copied and had a long and lasting influence on Victorian poetry.

  • The Waverley Novels, including The Antiquary, Old Mortality, The Heart of Midlothian, and whose subject is Scottish history, are now generally regarded as Scott’s masterpieces.

  • A major influence on American writers at this time was Romanticism.

  • [2] Indeed, Romanticism may be seen in part as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution,[3] though it was also a revolt against aristocratic social and political norms of the
    Age of Enlightenment, as well as a reaction against the scientific rationalization of nature.

  • [42] Keats has always been regarded as a major Romantic, “and his stature as a poet has grown steadily through all changes of fashion”.

  • [64] The countryside and history of Wales exerted an influence on the Romantic imagination of Britons, especially in travel writings, and the poetry of Wordsworth.

  • Edgar Allan Poe’s tales of the macabre that first appeared in the early 1830s, and his balladic poetry was more influential in France than at home.

  • As well as writing poems, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them.

  • [43] Other poets[edit] Another important poet in this period was John Clare (1793–1864).

  • “[35] Shelley became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets such as Robert Browning and Dante Gabriel
    Rossetti, as well as later W. B. Yeats.

  • Scholars regard the publishing of William Wordsworth’s and Samuel Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads in 1798 as probably the beginning of the movement in England, and the crowning
    of Queen Victoria in 1837 as its end.

  • Among his most important works are Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794), “and profound and difficult ‘prophecies'” such as Visions of the Daughters of
    Albion (1793), The Book of Urizen (1794), Milton (1804–1810) and Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion (1804–1820).

  • Her most popular and influential work, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1795), is frequently cited as the archetypal Gothic novel.

  • The publication of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s 1836 essay Nature is usually considered the watershed moment at which transcendentalism became a major cultural movement.


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