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Basic characteristics[ edit ] The nature of Romanticism may be approached from the primary importance of the free expression of the feelings of the artist.
The importance the Romantics placed on emotion is summed up in the remark of the German painter Caspar David Friedrich"the artist's feeling is his law". Samuel Taylor Coleridge and others believed there were natural laws An analysis of the english romantic poetry imagination—at least of a good creative artist—would unconsciously follow through artistic inspiration if left alone.
The concept of the geniusor artist who was able to produce his own original work through this process of creation from nothingness, is key to Romanticism, and to be derivative was the worst sin. This particularly in the effect of nature upon the artist when he is surrounded by it, preferably alone.
In contrast to the usually very social art of the EnlightenmentRomantics were distrustful of the human world, and tended to believe a close connection with nature was mentally and morally healthy. Romantic art addressed its audiences with what was intended to be felt as the personal voice of the artist.
So, in literature, "much of romantic poetry invited the reader to identify the protagonists with the poets themselves". The application of the term to literature first became common in Germany, where the circle around the Schlegel brothers, critics August and Friedrichbegan to speak of romantische Poesie "romantic poetry" in the s, contrasting it with "classic" but in terms of spirit rather than merely dating.
Friedrich Schlegel wrote in his Dialogue on Poetry"I seek and find the romantic among the older moderns, in Shakespeare, in Cervantes, in Italian poetry, in that age of chivalry, love and fable, from which the phenomenon and the word itself are derived.
Margaret Drabble described it in literature as taking place "roughly between and ",  and few dates much earlier than will be found. In English literature, M. Abrams placed it betweenorthis latter a very typical view, and aboutperhaps a little later than some other critics.
The early period of the Romantic Era was a time of war, with the French Revolution — followed by the Napoleonic Wars until These wars, along with the political and social turmoil that went along with them, served as the background for Romanticism.
The first emerged in the s and s, the second in the s, and the third later in the century.
That it was part of the Counter-Enlightenmenta reaction against the Age of Enlightenmentis generally accepted in current scholarship. Its relationship to the French Revolutionwhich began in in the very early stages of the period, is clearly important, but highly variable depending on geography and individual reactions.
Most Romantics can be said to be broadly progressive in their views, but a considerable number always had, or developed, a wide range of conservative views,  and nationalism was in many countries strongly associated with Romanticism, as discussed in detail below.
In philosophy and the history of ideas, Romanticism was seen by Isaiah Berlin as disrupting for over a century the classic Western traditions of rationality and the idea of moral absolutes and agreed values, leading "to something like the melting away of the very notion of objective truth",  and hence not only to nationalism, but also fascism and totalitarianismwith a gradual recovery coming only after World War II.
This is most evident in the aesthetics of romanticism, where the notion of eternal models, a Platonic vision of ideal beauty, which the artist seeks to convey, however imperfectly, on canvas or in sound, is replaced by a passionate belief in spiritual freedom, individual creativity.
The painter, the poet, the composer do not hold up a mirror to nature, however ideal, but invent; they do not imitate the doctrine of mimesisbut create not merely the means but the goals that they pursue; these goals represent the self-expression of the artist's own unique, inner vision, to set aside which in response to the demands of some "external" voice — church, state, public opinion, family friends, arbiters of taste — is an act of betrayal of what alone justifies their existence for those who are in any sense creative.
Arthur Lovejoy attempted to demonstrate the difficulty of defining Romanticism in his seminal article "On The Discrimination of Romanticisms" in his Essays in the History of Ideas ; some scholars see Romanticism as essentially continuous with the present, some like Robert Hughes see in it the inaugural moment of modernity and some like ChateaubriandNovalis and Samuel Taylor Coleridge see it as the beginning of a tradition of resistance to Enlightenment rationalism—a "Counter-Enlightenment"—   to be associated most closely with German Romanticism.
An earlier definition comes from Charles Baudelaire: This movement was led by France, with Balzac and Flaubert in literature and Courbet in painting; Stendhal and Goya were important precursors of Realism in their respective media.
However, Romantic styles, now often representing the established and safe style against which Realists rebelled, continued to flourish in many fields for the rest of the century and beyond. In music such works from after about are referred to by some writers as "Late Romantic" and by others as "Neoromantic" or "Postromantic", but other fields do not usually use these terms; in English literature and painting the convenient term "Victorian" avoids having to characterise the period further.
In northern Europe, the Early Romantic visionary optimism and belief that the world was in the process of great change and improvement had largely vanished, and some art became more conventionally political and polemical as its creators engaged polemically with the world as it was.
Elsewhere, including in very different ways the United States and Russia, feelings that great change was underway or just about to come were still possible. Displays of intense emotion in art remained prominent, as did the exotic and historical settings pioneered by the Romantics, but experimentation with form and technique was generally reduced, often replaced with meticulous technique, as in the poems of Tennyson or many paintings.
If not realist, late 19th-century art was often extremely detailed, and pride was taken in adding authentic details in a way that earlier Romantics did not trouble with. Many Romantic ideas about the nature and purpose of art, above all the pre-eminent importance of originality, remained important for later generations, and often underlie modern views, despite opposition from theorists.What's on SparkNotes.
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