THE ROMANTIC AGE
THE HISTORICAL GROUND: the Age of Revolutions
During the Augustan Age British society attained a
high level of political and social stability. The American Declaration of
Independence from Brithish rule of 1776 saw George Washington become the first
president of the
THE LITERARY GROUND: literature in the Romantic Age
During the Romantic period, poetry became one of the
most vital forms of literary expression. The poetry of Romanticism signalled a
profound change in sensibility which was occurring in
The main characteristics of Romanticism are intensity and imagination. Its main themes reflect the conflicts which characterise its historical context, that of the Industrial and French Revolutions. These themes recur in Romantic writings and include the tension between innocence and experience, youth and age, country and city, man and nature, language and expression.
We generally divide the Romantic poets into two groups:
CHARACTERISTICS OF ROMANTICISM
THE NOVEL IN THE ROMANTIC AGE
All the changes that British society and the economy underwent during this period also had their effect on the development of the novel. The Age of revolutions put an end to the golden age of free formal experimentation that the novel had briefly enjoyed. The linear history of one or more characters became the preferred form. But at the same time novelist began to reflect a wider range of themes, issues and settings. Novels began to encompass contrasting ideas, settings and points of wiew such as present/past, male/female; urban/rural.
WILLIAM WORDSWORTH (1770-l850)
LIFE AND WORKS:
William Wordsworth was born in
In 1791 he graduated in
In 1790 he went on a walking tour of
After returning to
The two poet, Wordsworth and Coleridge, had similar ideas on both love and poetry.
But this time Wordsworth had become intensely disillusioned with the Revolution whose initial ideals had degenerated into the so-called "Terror". Politically, he turned very conservative.
In 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge published anonymously the "Lyrical Ballads".
In 1800, the second edition of "Lyrical Ballads" included Wordsworth's famous prose "Preface".
"The prelude", a long narrative poem in which Wordsworth reflected on his youth and his early enthusiasm for the Revolution was published in 1805.
1807 saw the publication of "Poems in Two Volumes" and in 1814 "The Excursion".
Wordsworth was made Poet Laureate (the title given to British poets in recognition of their achievements) in 1843. He died in 1850.
The "Preface" to the "Lirical Ballads" can be considered a manifesto for Wordsworth's work and explains well his idea of poetry and nature, the role of the poet and the language he should use.
Poetry, according to Wordsworth, must be concerned with the ordinary, everyday world and the influence of memory on the present, which is to say, the recollection of emotions and feelings.
The best subjects are therefore 'humble rustic life' and people in close contact with nature.
The poet has a greater sensibility than ordinary men and thanks to his power of imagination can communicate his feelings and help people to get in touch with their interior world.
The kind of language used by the poet must reflect this simplicity, it has to be similar to the simple 'language of men'.