Why We Really Should be the “New Romantics”

Romanticism Romanticism was an aesthetic in literary criticism and a wider social movement concerning areas such as philosophy, art and music which was prominent in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Yet so few people today understand the concepts of Romanticism, and further still, how it is potentially applicable today. I admit, when first asked to consider Romanticism, it was ‘love poems’ which immediately sprang to mind. ‘Ah well’ I thought ‘I can perhaps understand why that is still applicable to modern day…’

But Romanticism is a much wider love, not only encompassing my own, but that of the natural landscape and human natural faculties – imagination and thought, for example. This was a love seemingly felt and documented by a number of poets including Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Blake and William Wordsworth – and it is actually believed that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, in what appears to be an utter appreciation of nature, would walk over the Lake District Fells in order to visit Wordsworth! Yet the movement between 1800 and 1840 frothed bitterly, facing a state of the mass maltreatment of nature. Of course, the 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the growth of the ultimate passion-killer, the industrial revolution, and instead the challenge of neutral, unfeeling scientific reductionism – where situation was reduced to fact and figures. There was intense frustration, as boiling in the French Revolution which in its attack against the ruling classes, provided the lifeblood of bitterness towards objectivity, from which Romanticism in turn emerged.

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