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История литературы / 23. The romantic movement in England

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W. Blake, R. Burns, W. Wordsworth (pre-romantics) Blake`s romanticism phylisophical, Burns – peasant. G. Byron, P.B. Shelley The word “romance” meant originally the literature written in this language (vernacular). The adjective “romantic” first appeared in English in the mid 17th century as a word to describe fabulous, extravagant, fictitious & unreal. Gradually the term “romanticism” was applied to denote the birth of literature depending on instinct & emotion. The romantic literature came to oppose the rational literature of the 18th century. The literature of romanticism is very much diverse in all European countries. There it was characterized by features that weren’t represented in other countries. In every country it had its peculiar features. emphasized imagination, feeling and emotion, championed the values of the individual, strove for freedom, took a revitalized interest in medieval subjects as well as contemporary issues, rejected ‘poetic diction’ and used ordinary language; they also experimented with a wide range of poetic forms (ballad, ode, sonnet) Even within the same country no two writers are necessarily romantic in the same way. Usually romantic writers are divided into 3 groups. This subdivision depends upon the vision of this or that writer. 1) Some of them connected their hopes & desires with the future development of humanity. 2) Some relied upon the past. The heroes of the past served the subject matter for their writing. 3) Others relied upon the human instincts of the human being & disregarded the outer world as being unworthy & corrupted. A romantic person (a romanticist) is a person who is not satisfied with the present. He seems to escape from familiar experience and from the limitations of reality. He delights in the marvelous. He may range from the most trivial literary fantasy to the most exalted mysticism. At the same time, he usually loves the realistic detail and associates the remote with the familiar. His main effort is to live constantly in the world of imagination. The typical romanticist is a dreamer, though no single writer conforms wholly to the type. In dreams a great significance is attached to symbolism. That’s why romantic literature is very rich in symbols. There’s also a persistent resort to suggestiveness in language (a linguistic characteristic). They also employ the overtones of meaning and they resort to dreamy associations which they attach to words. They mostly rely upon the imagination and they try to render spiritual world mostly. A romantic writer is very sensitive trying to find some manifestations of his desires in the outer world. He usually realizes every single change that may be suggestive. This constant practicing makes people, who employ romanticism as an outlet for their feelings, profit. The scale is very wide from fantasy to disillusionment. Looking for perfection romantic writers come to understand it’s unattainable. This brings misanthropy & the desire to escape from the real world, that is treated as a castle of their spirit. So they concentrate upon a special wind of experience – the inner experience of human being, which is based upon the workings of spirit. A rational writer is a member of an organized society – a romanticist is a rebellion against this society, because any society has regulations and romanticists regard these regulations as limitations. Being mystical romanticists invent demonic characters (everything is exaggerated – женщина-вамп). In the majority of cases romanticists give types, not characters. When we say that they rely upon associations, we may really mean that they disregard logic. Because of their concern for nature and simple folk, authors began to take an interest in old legends, folk ballads, antiquities, ruins, “noble savages,” and rustic characters. Many writers started to give more play to their senses and to their imaginations. Their pictures of nature became livelier and more realistic. They loved to describe rural scenes, graveyards, majestic mountains, and roaring waterfalls. They also liked to write poems and stories of such eerie or supernatural things as ghosts, haunted castles, fairies, and mad folk. William Blake (1757 – 1827) (Natural religion, Songs of Innocence, Marriage of heaven and hell, the French Revolution, Visions of the Daughter of Albion, Songs of Experience) IMPORTANT!!! Work of art perfect beautiful from is symmetry, the tiger – mixture of Christian and Pagan symbols, reminds of a spell, almighty God? Why did he create evil if he can`t do anuthingwith it? Is his power limited? The speaker is no longer a child. Basic device – rhethorical questions. Parados – child could answer, grown up can`t, innocence turns out to be wiser. One of the major romantic poets in England, whose verse & outwork became a part of a wider movement we call romanticism. W. Blake was an artist, an engraver, a visionary, a philosopher & a poet. He is even now considered to be one of the most prominent writers in English culture. Blake is now recognized as a saint in the Gnostic Catholic Church. Blake was a Londoner by birth, and he lived there for the whole life. He supported himself partly by engraving, partly by selling his original compositions to a few private customers. In both vocations he gives flashes of genius. There are pieces which combine extreme simplicity with unearthly music. In all his works Blake was extremely extravagant. He disregarded all conventions. He despised rules and models, because his aim was the vague suggestion of truth and beauty. He not only wrote books, but he also illustrated and printed them. Many of his conservative contemporaries thought him insane because his ideas were so unusual. Chief among these “insane” ideas was his devotion to freedom and universal love. He was interested in children and animals—the most innocent of God's creatures. In painting and poetry Blake created Biblical images, and especially his later works are very much religious. God and Christianity constituted the intellectual center of his writings, from which he drew inspiration. Blake had a philosophy of his own and his own interesting vision. Acc. to his vision and philosophy the Earth was a part of the Universe subject to all its rules. A human being was in the center of the Universe subject to all the processes the Universe was influenced by. Imagination was the main quality that created a sort of vision, and this vision helped the human being to encompass the Universe. “To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower, Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour” (Auguries of Innocence): illustrates Blake’s holographic vision of the Universe. This approach from insignificant to the most significant in the world characterizes Blake’s attitude to life, poetry, painting, to the world in general. This stanza contains the philosophy which only the wise will evaluate, consider and draw conclusions from. It is a kind of wisdom that doesn’t come through the mind, but through the heart. Blake thought that the heart was the quint-essence of wisdom, and exactly this attitude is seen in all his poetry and creations.

Songs of Innocence”. “Infant Joy” This poem is very important, because it illustrates all the previous assumptions. To read this poem attentively means to understand what is under the surface from the perspective of symbols and signals. The content and the form seem absolutely transparent, but only for the first sight. The infant is only 2 days old, it possesses no name, the content of the infant’s existence is joy. The concluding statement of the both stanzas shows the religious and at the same time Universal perspective of the poem, because it sounds as a kind of blessing. A lot is underneath. Blake was a philosopher who knew a lot about human spirit and human thought. He was sure that all the human beings are united by the spirit of the Universe. This spirit relied upon a very important and widely known opposition between goodness and evil. Blake knew a lot about the etymology of every religion known to men. This verse bears some influence of Egyptian religious philosophy. We can trace some interdependencies of all the religions which are based on the idea of the Ideal. The first words of God: “Let there be light”, the implication: before these words darkness reigned over the world, then the reign of Order came. The statue of Little Buddah in the flower of Lotus reminds us of the poem. The legend: one day from under the water there appeared the magic lotus. It opened its petals and the light succeeded the chaotic darkness. In the middle of the flower there set the young God of the Sun. He sat in the position of the lotus, and he held his finger across his lips, and he had a very strange plate. The gesture means either “I have no name” or “Do not call me by name”. In the evening the petals of the lotus closed, and it came under the water. But the two big snakes came looking for the child to destroy him, but the child had the plate like a snake and it was a mascot to stave away evil. Great wisdom is employed under the surface – the wisdom of the spirit. The essence of the two books is very important, because experience, as Blake saw it, was tragic from the outside. When people get to know the world and its ways, instead of joy they acquire a feeling of bitterness and tragedy. “The Tyger” (Songs of Experience)

Blake on the one hand realizes that the Tyger is beautiful, because the symmetry is the essence of beauty. “Fire burning bright” is not the Sun, fire suppresses the light of the Sun, dark forest of the night – evening. The image of forest reminds us of Dante (in Dante the dark forest stands for chaos). Blake makes the reader realize that the symmetry may be also fearful. The paradox of the poem: sometimes beauty may cause evil. The 1st stanza: the central question: What immortal hand or eye could frame thy fearful symmetry? The 2nd stanza: the idea of fire is repeated several times. Then God is like a smith, and Blake gives all the details of his creation. 5th stanza: Did he who made the Lamb make thee? It shows that Blake never believed in the idea of kind God, but he realized it is not the issue, because he wrote about the opposition “evil vs. goodness”. It comprises the idea of Blake’s philosophy and the idea that experience will bring disaster, because it corrupts. As well as knowledge, experience brings about misfortunes. Blake here expresses the idea of “What for? Why?” Blake, as many romantic writers, believed that some revolution that is aimed at establishing justice will bring people happiness. But closer to the end of his life Blake’s philosophy became more religious and more universal.

Blake had a universal approach to the idea of democracy. He was always sure that he had to create a system and he always seeks to express some cosmic perspective on the issues of faith, philosophy, religion and belief. He is very serious and he is concerned with fundamental question of human life. All his works are very much symbolic, so responsive reading is necessary. For Blake any separation of art from moral problems is ridiculous. His objects of writing may be summed up as the understanding and evaluation of human experience, esp. in crucial situations. Blake’s short poems secure control of the readers’ response, they express more direct statements of human experience. They are very skillfully organized: the immense compression of meaning. Blake handles the language skillfully. His rhymes deserve much attention as well. In the majority of cases they are forceful, and sometimes simple. In some cases they are based on the ballad meter, in some poems they are influenced by the Bible, some of them repeat the rhythm of natural speech. He always resorts to implications, and any reader should be experienced enough to interpret his coherent, but sometimes unexpected associations. And finally, no one would pass by his bright imagery. Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience (1794) juxtapose the innocent, pastoral world of childhood against an adult world of corruption and repression. Blake stands outside innocence and experience, in a distanced.

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