A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century

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Help us introduce it to others by writing a better introduction for it. It's quick and easy, click here. No active discussions on Beers found. Why not post a question or comment yourself? Just click the link below. Blake combines classical anatomy with a bold and energetic composition to evoke a vision of divine creation. Blake eschewed traditional Christianity and felt instead that imagination was "the body of God.

Europe a Prophecy reflected his disappointment in the French Revolution that he felt had not resulted in true freedom but in a world full of suffering as reflected in England and France in the s. Little known during his lifetime, Blake's works were rediscovered by the Pre-Raphaelites at the end of the 19 th century, and as more artists continued to rediscover him in the 20 th century, he has become one of the most influential of the Romantic artists.

His troops had violently sacked the city but were subsequently stricken in an outbreak of plague. Gros creates a dramatic tableau of light and shade with Napoleon in the center, as if on a stage. He stands in front of a Moorish arcade and touches the sores of one of his soldiers, while his staff officer holds his nose from the stench. In the foreground, sick and dying men, many naked, suffer on the ground in the shadows. A Syrian man on the left, along with his servant who carries a breadbasket, gives bread to the ill, and two men behind them carry a man out on a stretcher.

While Gros' teacher Jaques Louis David also portrayed Napoleon in all of his mythic glory, Gros, along with some of David's other students, injected a Baroque dynamism into their compositions to create a more dramatic effect than David's Neoclassicism offered. Gros' depiction of suffering and death, combined with heroism and patriotism within an exotic locale became hallmarks of many Romantic paintings.

The use of color and light highlights Napoleon's gesture, meant to convey his noble character in addition to likening him to Christ, who healed the sick. Napoleon commissioned the painting, hoping to silence the rumors that he had ordered fifty plague victims poisoned. The work was exhibited at the Salon de Paris, its appearance timed to occur between Napoleon's proclaiming himself as emperor and his coronation. Content compiled and written by Rebecca Seiferle.

Updated and modified regularly. By using our site, you agree to our terms , and usage of cookies. GOT IT! The Art Story. Movements, Styles, and Tendencies Romanticism. Started: c. He is considered a major influence on the works of Manet, Picasso, and Dali. More Top Artists. His preoccupation with color-induced optical effects and use of expressive brushstrokes were crucial influences on Impressionism and Pointillism. In part spurred by the idealism of the French Revolution, Romanticism embraced the struggles for freedom and equality and the promotion of justice.

Painters began using current events and atrocities to shed light on injustices in dramatic compositions that rivaled the more staid Neoclassical history paintings accepted by national academies. Romanticism embraced individuality and subjectivity to counteract the excessive insistence on logical thought. Artists began exploring various emotional and psychological states as well as moods. The preoccupation with the hero and the genius translated to new views of the artist as a brilliant creator who was unburdened by academic dictate and tastes.

As the French poet Charles Baudelaire described it, "Romanticism is precisely situated neither in choice of subject nor in exact truth, but in a way of feeling.

A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century

How far 'Goetz von Berlichingen' actually affected Scott's literary destination, and whether without it the rhymed romances, and then the prose romances of the author of Waverly, would not have followed as they did, must remain a very obscure question; obscure and not important. Of the fact, however, there is no doubt, that these two tendencies, which may be named Goetzism and Wertherism, of the former of which Scott was representative with us, have made and are still in some quarters making the tour of all Europe.

In Germany, too, there was this affectionate, half-regretful looking-back into the past: Germany had its buff-belted, watch-tower period in literature, and had even got done with it before Scott began. If any man will insist on taking Heinse's 'Ardinghello' and Miller's 'Siegwart,' the works of Veit Weber the Younger, and above all the everlasting Kotzebue,[30] as his specimens of German literature, he may establish many things. Black Forests and the glories of Lubberland, sensuality and horror, the specter nun and the charmed moonshine shall not be wanting.

Boisterous outlaws also, with huge whiskers and the most cat-o'-mountain aspect; tear-stained sentimentalists, the grimmest man-haters, ghosts and the like suspicious characters will be found in abundance. We are little read in this bowl-and-dagger department; but we do understand it to have been at one time rather diligently cultivated; though at present it seems to be mostly relinquished.

What should we think of a German critic that selected his specimens of British literature from 'The Castle Specter,' Mr.


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It would scarcely be more unwise to consider 'Hamlet' as depending for its main interest on the ghost that walks in it. True, this spawn of the Sturm- und Drangzeit , with its dealings in banditti, monks, inquisitors, confessionals, torture and poison, dungeon and rack, the haunted tower, the yelling ghost, and the solitary cell, had been anticipated in England by Walpole's "Castle of Otranto" and "Mysterious Mother"; but this slender native stream was now quite overwhelmed in the turbid flood of sensational matter from the Black Forest and the Rhine.

Radcliffe herself had drunk from foreign sources.

A History of English Romanticism in the Nineteenth Century by Henry Augustin Beers

In she made the tour of the Rhine and published a narrative of her journey in the year following. The knightly river had not yet become hackneyed; Brentano had not invented nor Heine sung the seductive charms of the Luerlei; nor Byron mused upon "the castled crag of Drachenfels.

But the fair traveler paused upon many a spot already sacred to legend and song: the Mouse Tower and Rolandseck and the Seven Mountains. She noted the peasants, in their picturesque costumes, carrying baskets of soil to the steep vineyard terraces: the ruined keeps of robber barons on the heights, and the dark sweep of the romantic valleys, bringing in their tributary streams from north and south. Lockhart says that Scott's translations of "Goetz" should have been published ten years sooner to have had its full effect.

For the English public had already become sated with the melodramas and romances of Kotzebue and the other German Kraftmaenner ; and the clever parody of "The Robbers," under the title of "The Rovers," which Canning and Ellis had published in the Anti-Jacobin , had covered the entire species with ridicule. The vogue of this class of fiction, the chivalry romance, the feudal drama, the robber play and robber novel, the monkish tale and the ghost story Ritterstueck, Ritteroman, Raeuberstuck, Raeuberroman, Klostergeschichte, Gespensterlied both in Germany and England, satisfied, however crudely, the longing of the time for freedom, adventure, strong action, and emotion.

As Lowell said of the transcendental movement in New England, it was a breaking of windows to get at the fresh air. Laughable as many of them seem today, with their improbable plots and exaggerated characters, they met a need which had not been met either by the rationalizing wits of the Augustan age or by the romanticizing poets who followed them with their elegiac refinement, and their unimpassioned strain of reflection and description.

They appeared, for the moment, to be the new avatar of the tragic muse whereof Akenside and Collins and Warton had prophesied, the answer to their demand for something wild and primitive, for the return into poetry of the Naturton , and the long-absent power of exciting the tragic emotions, pity and terror. This spirit infected not merely the department of the chivalry play and the Gothic romance, but prose fiction in general. It is responsible for morbid and fantastic creations like Beckford's "Vathek," Godwin's "St. Leon" and "Caleb Williams," Mrs. Shelley's "Frankenstein," Shelley's "Zastrozzi" and "St.


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  5. Irvine the Rosicrucian," and the American Charles Brockden Brown's "Ormond" and "Wieland," forerunners of Hawthorne and Poe; tales of sleep-walkers and ventriloquists, of persons who are in pursuit of the elixir vitae , or who have committed the unpardonable sin, or who manufacture monsters in their laboratories, or who walk about in the Halls of Eblis, carrying their burning hearts in their hands.

    Lockhart, however, denies that "Goetz von Berlichingen" had anything in common with the absurdities which Canning made fun of in the Anti-Jacobin. He says that it was a "broad, bold, free, and most picturesque delineation of real characters, manners, and events. It is a part of the irony of things that so robust a muse as Walter Scott's should have been nursed in infancy by a little creature like Lewis. His "Monk" had been published in , when the author was only twenty.

    The latter was collecting materials for his "Tales of Wonder," and when Erskine showed him Scott's "William and Helen" and "The Wild Huntsman," and told him that he had other things of the kind in manuscript, Lewis begged that Scott would contribute to his collection. Erskine accordingly put him in communication with Scott, who felt highly flattered by the Monk's request, and wrote to him that his ballads were quite at his service. Lewis replied, thanking him for the offer. His person was extremely small and boyish—he was indeed the least man I ever saw, to be strictly well and neatly made.

    This boyishness went through life with him. He was a child and a spoiled child, but a child of high imagination; and so he wasted himself on ghost stories and German romances.

    What is Romanticism?

    He had the finest ear for rhythm I ever met with—finer than Byron's. The most remarkable outcome of this queer symposium was Mrs. Shelley's abnormal romance, "Frankenstein. It was two years after this, and on his return voyage from a visit to these West Indian estates, that Lewis died of yellow fever and was buried at sea. Byron made this note of it in his diary: "I'd give the lands of Deloraine Dark Musgrave were alive again," that is, "I would give many a sugar cane Monk Lewis were alive again. The poor lady was something of a blue-stocking and aspired, herself, to literary honors.

    Lewis' devotion to her is very charming, and the elder-brotherly tone of his letters to her highly amusing. But he had a dislike of "female authorship": and the rumor having reached his ear that his mother had written a novel and a tragedy and was preparing to print them, he wrote to her in alarm, begging her to stay her hand. I always consider a female author as a sort of half-man.

    Lewis' favorite books was "Glanvil on Witches. Mompesson's house. In the ancient mansion of Stanstead Hall, belonging to a kinsman of his father, where the boy spent a part of his childhood, there was a haunted chamber known as the cedar room.

    He began it at Oxford in , describing it in a letter to his mother as "a romance in the style of 'The Castle of Otranto. For years Lewis was one of the most active intermediaries between the German purveyors of the terrible and the English literary market. He fed the stage with melodramas and operas, and stuffed the closet reader with ballads and prose romances.

    When you read it, tell me whether you think there is any resemblance between the character given of Montoni. I confess that it struck me. It passed from hand to hand into that of Henry, Duke of Buccleuch, who, hearing the general voice affirm that it was very like, said aloud, 'Like Mat Lewis! Why, that picture's like a man. It had Spanish grandees, heroines of dazzling beauty, bravoes and forest banditti, foolish duennas and gabbling domestics, monks, nuns, inquisitors, magic mirrors, enchanted wands, midnight incantations, sorcerers, ghosts, demons; haunted chambers, wainscoated in dark oak; moonlit castles with ruined towers and ivied battlements, whose galleries rang with the shrieks and blasphemies of guilty spirits, and from whose portals issued, when the castle clock tolled one, the specter of a bleeding nun, with dagger and lamp in hand.

    There were poisonings, stabbings, and ministrations of sleeping potions; beauties who masqueraded as pages, and pages who masqueraded as wandering harpers; secret springs that gave admittance to winding stairs leading down into the charnel vaults of convents, where erring sisters were immured by cruel prioresses and fed on bread and water among the loathsome relics of the dead.

    With all this, "The Monk" is a not wholly contemptible work. There is a certain narrative power about it which puts it much above the level of "The Castle of Otranto.

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    Radcliffe's romances, it has neither the excess of scenery nor of sentiment which distinguishes that very prolix narrator. There is nothing strictly mediaeval about it. The knight in armor cuts no figure and the historical period is not precisely indicated. But the ecclesiastical features lend it a semblance of mediaevalism; and one is reminded, though but faintly, by the imprisonment of the offending sister in the sepulcher of the convent, of the scene in "Marmion" where Constance is immured in the vaults of Lindisfarne—a frank anachronism, of course, on Scott's part, since Lindisfarne had been in ruins centuries before the battle of Flodden.