Neoclassicism strived for traditionalism and concentration on man as a part of the progressing civilization; this, as the neo-classicists believed would lead to a more structured community and literary works. However, the writers and intellectuals of the late 18th century had different ideals from their predecessors. The French Revolution [1789-1799] brought new ideas into common people and those who believed a change is coming, became more interested in portraying their beliefs in common tongue rather than eloquent language that concentrated on the aristocratic class. Romantic period thus marked the entry of the poet who focussed on the poet’s feelings about Nature [not human nature] and the connection with the self.
The second edition of Lyrical Ballads published in 1800 of William Wordsworth and Coleridge marked the new beginnings. The Preface in the Lyrical Ballads written by Wordsworth is considered as the manifesto for the romantic period. Romantic period did not last a century, marked from 1785-1830, but its influence has become immortal because of the poetic and prose developments during the period.
Main aspects of romantic period
Escaping from the traditions of the age like urbanism, industrialism and searching for the imaginative mind concentrating on the exotic ideas.
Landscapes, trees, living beings and most things concerned with Nature are explained with precision and with great knowledge. However, romantic literature did not find it as an exclusive trait but as a connection to the feelings of the poet.
Naturalness of language and flow is preferred over constructing a piece of literature. As Keats puts it, “If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves of a tree, it had better not come at all”.
Simplicity in language did not entangle the poets and writers into undertaking simple subjects. Other than Wordsworth school, others followed either occult or fantasy or highly-imaginative or ecstasy or ecstasy elements that lifted the romantic literature to an unbelievable level.
Notable points of the period
The romantic poets are categorized into two generations. The first generation of poets consist of William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Blake. The second generation of poets consist of Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and George Gordon [Lord Byron].
The prose of romantic period was dominated by essays perfumed by the magnificence of Charles Lamb. People like Thomas Love Peacock adhered to the developing genre of English literature i.e. novel.
|S. No||Name||Important works||Notable aspects|
|1||William Blake||Poetical sketches|
|Songs of Innocence|
|Songs of Experience|
|The Book of Thel|
|The French Revolution|
|The Four Zoas|
|Visions of the Daughters of Albion|
|2||William Wordsworth||Lyrical Ballads||Preface to Lyrical Ballads is crucial to the development of romantic period|
|The Immortality Ode|
|The Solitary Reaper|
|3||Samuel Taylor Coleridge||Biographia Literaria|
|The Ancient Mariner|
|4||Robert Southey||Thalaba the Destroyer|
|The curse of Kehama|
|Roderick, The Last of Goths|
|5||P B Shelley||Queen Mab|
|Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude|
|The Witch of Atlas|
|Lines written among the Eugean Halls|
|To a Skylark|
|Defence of Poetry|
|Eve of St. Agnes|
|Ode to Nightingale|
|Ode on a Grecian Urn|
|Ode to Autumn|
|7||Lord Byron [George Gordon]||Manfred|
|Hours of Idleness|
|Bards and Scotch Reviewers|
|Childe Harold’s Piligrimage|
|8||Leigh Hunt||The Examiner||Journal|
|The Story of Rimini|
|9||Charles Lamb||Essays of Elia||Lamb is “the most lovable figure in English Literature”. [E. V. Lucas]|
|A Tale of Rosamund Gray|
|Last Essays of Elia|
|Tales from Shakespeare||With sister Mary Lamb|
|The Adventures of Ulysses||With sister Mary Lamb|
|10||William Hazlitt||The Round Table|
|Characters of Shakespeare’s plays|
|The Spirit of the Age|
|The Plain Speaker|
|11||Thomas De Quincey||Confessions of an English Opium Eater|
|Suspiria De Profundis|
|12||Thomas Love Peacock||Head Long Hall|
|The Misfortunes of Elphin|
|The Ages of Poetry||Essay|
|13||Robert Burns||A Red, Red Rose|
|A Man’s a Man for A’ That|
|To a Louse|
|To a Mouse|
|Ae Fond Kiss|
The writers of the romantic period in English literature completely changed the thoughts of neoclassical age; shifting from art for human’s sake with the limitations of the society to art for the sake of the poet and estranged man who wonders about the universe in simple factions. It comes as no wonder that forms developed in the romantic age are much easier to embrace than those developed in the neoclassical age.