Romanticism as a Revolution

Essay by toto323 March 2006

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Romanticism is an intellectual artistic and philosophical movement that originated in late 18th century Western Europe, and redefined the fundamental ways in which people in Western cultures thought about themselves and about their world.

The term 'Romanticism' derives ultimately from the fictional romances written during the middle ages and involved episodic adventures of a single individual.These were notable for their use of magic and focus on personal characteristics of honor and valor with a sense of lofty idealism. In English, the term 'Romantick' also embodied experiences of human inadequacy and guilt, quite separate from their traditional Christian grounding. But in the 18th century the term came to designate a new kind of exotic landscape which evoked feelings of pleasant melancholy. The term Romantic as a designation for a school of literature opposed to the Classic was first used by the German critic Karl Wilhelm Friedrich von Schlegel (1772-1829) at the beginning of the 19th century .From

Germany this meaning was carried to England and France.

Romanticism has many beginnings, and takes many different forms; so that in his essay, 'On the Discrimination of Romanticism'(1924) A. O Lovejoy argued that the word 'Romantic' has come to mean so many things that, by itself, it means nothing. 'It has ceased to perform the function of a verbal sign'. (1) One of his solutions was to recommend the use of the word 'Romanticism 'in the plural only; another was to recommend closer analysis of what Romantic ideas consist of. He gave three examples: the preference for nature over art, and for the primitive over the sophisticated, the idea that classic art is limited, and Romantic art is infinite and the unquestionably Romantic Chateaubriand's belief in art and its rules. In his essay ' The concept of Romanticism in Literary History '(1949), Rene...