The Romantic Movement

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THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT It was a very important cultural phenomenon; an ideological orientation that characterised many aspects of life, all in fact. All kinds of cultural manifestations were influenced by it. It started in Germany and extended all over Europe. It took place over a very long period from the late 18th Century up to the first half of the 19th. Yet the Romantic influence can be perceived through out the whole of the Victorian Period (19th C.). Romanticism is a rejection of the Neo-classical principles: hierarchy, balance, decorum, scala naturae, rationalism, etc. It is a reaction against physical materialism. In spite of being opposites, Neo-classicism and Romanticism share many things. For instance, Benevolism, which was the seed of Romanticism, first appeared a bit before the first half of the 18th Century. Romanticism emphasises on individuals, the imaginative, the spontaneous, the spiritual. Among the most characteristic attitudes of Romanticism are the following: * Strong appreciation of the beautiful: search for beauty is their main aspiration. There is a strong appreciation of the beauties of nature, which is the projection of perfection, it is a healing agent, something necessary to enjoy life. This idea can also be found in the previous century. * Emotion is on top of reason: emotion is praised at the expense of reason. The exaltation of senses over intellect is a constant item in Romantic literature.


These dealt with individual heroism, with the mysterious and the supernatural, like Sir Gawain, Beowulf, etc. This kind of literature is so interesting to them because they reacted against the artificiality of classical literary forms. Romanticism can be divided into two different faces: The first face corresponds to the early Romantic period which was mainly concerned with establishing the theoretical foundations of the movement. Poetry and Philosophical treatises are the main literary forms used for defining Romanticism and its concepts. The second face develops from the 1830's onwards and is concerned with the spread of cultural nationalisms. As a consequence of this a renewed interest in the past, in origins sees the light. The past is idealised and recreated. A new genre emerged: the historical Romance which makes an emphasis on the imaginative component. The past is recreated with a touch of imagination, a good example of this kind of literature is Sir Walter Scott's Waverly Novels ('Ivanhoe'). The Romantic Movement had its own peculiarities in each country but we can distinguish two main branches: the German Romanticism which influences the whole of Europe except England, and the English Romanticism. The main differences between both of them are: German Romanticism very much appreciated: the sophisticated: the mystical, the subconscious the abstract art for art's sake English Romanticism had an attraction for the simple (every day affairs)


Theoretical reason: it dealt with all the principles that made scientific knowledge possible. Practical reason: it ruled the ethical and moral principles and tried to justify the principles that should rule human actions. Kant tried to reconcile the world of metaphysics and the world of science. He believed in the existence of God and in the categorical imperative: every human being should behave in such a way that his behaviour can be taken as a model to imitate. Why? because we have to. This is what delivers the idea of 'duty' on the Romantics. He merges two concepts that previously had been separated: 'Whenever reason fails, faith provides the answer'. His followers insisted upon the idealist components, but it was Hegel who carried idealism to its ultimate consequences. He was the father of Absolute Idealism: 'everything is nothing but spirit that innacts itself in everything. For Hegel it is not the human mind that apprehends the Absolute Spirit, it is the Absolute Spirit that exists in the human mind. Knowledge, according to Hegel, consists on moving towards unity in spite of differentiation. The acquirement of knowledge is done through the Dialectical Scheme: every hypothesis implies the existence of its antithesis and their integration results into a synthesis. The synthesis becomes another hypothesis with its antithesis, etc. etc. The ultimate idea is the Absolute Spirit. Our main aim is to reach a vertical axis in the pyramid. Absolute Spirit Philosophy Religion Art and culture Nature LITERATURA S. XIX 02/05/07 1 1 C:\Documents and Settings\ckd\My Documents\essays\doc\after\8274.doc 1

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