Literature of Romanticism: what it is, how it arose, and its characteristics.


¿What is the romanticism movement?

This movement, which began in the 18th century in different areas of Europe, including France, England and Germany, and which constituted one of the most decisive moments for the development of literature, exerted an important influence that we can find in features of the creation of current literature in other areas of the world due to its wide diffusion. This movement influenced different fields of art, but on this occasion we will focus on its influence on literature.

What is the romanticism movement

In general, we speak of the literature of romanticism as a literary current that mainly opposes the approaches of rationalism, including capitalism and aspects of classism. In its diffusion, other aspects will begin to develop, as for example in its arrival in Latin America, where issues such as the review of the historical past and the natural landscape of each region stand out. Also, writers of different genres will highlight diverse expressions and intentions in their creations.

How the literature of romanticism emerged

It is considered that the center of origin of this literary movement was located in Germany, hence the first to be known as “German Romanticism”. However, it quickly spread to other areas. In its beginnings it consisted of two fundamental aspects. On the one hand, the “Pietism” that emerged in Germany, which was characterized by the defense of a unipersonal and bilateral relationship of the human being with God, leaving aside the formalisms and regulations dictated by the Church. And on the other “Sturm and Drang”, translated as “storm and impetus”, characterized by its aesthetic profile, which is also opposed to classicism.

It is important to note that its origin is marked by the rise of the bourgeois class and at the same time, the strengthening of the ideals of equality that will generate the French Revolution. Thus, at first the movement is attributed to the lyrical ballads of artists such as Samuel Coleridge and William Wordsworth, and after the French Revolution, it will be embraced by various artists such as Victor Higo.

Later, around the year 1830, the movement of romanticism will reach American countries, among them the United States and all Latin America, where it will take shape from the national and historical past, as well as the indigenism and nature adapted to the area of location.

Development of the movement in literature

As we mentioned, one of the main characteristics of this movement has to do with the different adaptations it undergoes not only in the regions where it spreads, but also from the genres in which it develops. One of them has a fundamental role in the field of poetry, where poets begin to highlight in their works the expressions of feelings, as well as emotions, elements that will be fundamental in their creations.

On the other hand, one of the crucial points of the current has to do with breaking the rules of literary genres, which will open the door to imagination, fantasy and creativity over reason. The mixture of tragedy and comedy, the expression of the rebellious spirit and the emotions taken, in many cases, to the limit will also emerge.

Most important themes of Romanticism

Within the movement there were several themes that artists developed in their creations, however, due to individual freedom and feelings, some of the most recurrent ones can be identified. Among them we find melancholy, disenchantment in rejection of the present and the short duration of life, the past as one of the most important themes evading the present by returning to the memory.

The movement also focuses on themes such as nature that was worked in Neoclassicism, which we have already talked about in another section, which focuses on the landscape and forests, away from a tamed nature. Freedom and thus creativity will allow him to develop works of this time, in addition to love, death, the poet as a creative genius, among others.

Central aspects of development

At this time and hand in hand with the movement of romanticism, autobiographies begin to appear, one of the most important genres that will take great strength in posterity. Another of the genres that presents an important development is the novel, with the historical novel and also the horror or gothic novel. On the other hand, the writing of adventure novels also began, poetry left aside the precepts of neoclassicism to take up those that had been marginalized, and the follies also emerged.

Some experts have pointed out that this movement was mainly exalted in the dramatic and lyrical genres, and new genres began to appear, such as the melologue or romantic drama, characterized by the combination of prose and verse. However, the theater is key because it is considered the most popular genre that also allowed the representation of national sentiment and the search for freedom.

Manifesto of Romanticism

It is considered that the manifesto corresponds to the European document that decrees the beginning of the movement in a formal way located in the second edition of the work called Lyrical Ballads in the year 1800 that was written by Wordsworth and Coleridge. The manifesto includes a text that evidences the rejection of the rules and conventions of the literary world, highlighting the importance of paying attention to feeling, subjectivity and imagination for creation.

Characteristics of romanticism

Characteristics of romanticism

Now let’s look at some basic aspects of the movement to understand on a larger scale its importance in the development of world literature, as well as its main bases and foundations of creation:

The “I” above all else

In the rebelliousness and the search for freedom arises the “I” that prevails in the artist. In many cases it is related to a way of overcoming the world in which the individual moves away from society to find a space that allows him to concentrate on himself, evaluate his feelings and give them free rein. In contrast to rationalism, it is interested in irrationalism.

National sentiment

One of the most important searches that romanticism achieved was for the national feeling that will be very important both at the individual and popular level, always choosing the recovery of local traditions that had been left behind. Thus, it will be a key moment to return to the values of the past of each region in which it develops.

Rebelliousness of the artist

Among many things, one of the issues to be considered in this movement is rebelliousness. This search arises from the incomprehension of the artist who begins to rebel against conventionalisms and society. The artist reveals his vulnerability and sensitivity. All this to express his nonconformity with the rules and the following of the particular feelings of the individual.

Freedom of the human being

One of the crucial points in which the movement of romanticism advocates has to do with the exaltation of individual freedom. Thus, its works will be impregnated with this intention that highlights the importance and the defense of freedom expressed from the emotions and the subjective within the human being.

Creation of a new language

One of the most important characteristics of the current also has features in the language itself, since it appears a style with much more expressiveness in its use, as well as a greater emphasis on the use of forms and ironies. Thus, little by little, a style of romanticism literature begins to emerge that includes elements that evoke memory, imagination and creativity.

Sense of nostalgia

This is one of the most frequent elements of the literature of romanticism, since it will present this feeling mediated mainly by the events of the past, in many cases of the Middle Ages.

Space for fantasy

A fundamental aspect in the literary development of this movement is related to opening the door to the creative world and with it, to dreams, fantasies, the unreal and even the supernatural that will be key to this search for freedom of the human being for which it advocates. However, the nostalgic feeling will be present in it.

Rupture of the traditional

For the moment in which the movement arises, as well as the themes in which it develops the literary creation, it will represent a rupture with the traditional without implying to leave aside the essence of the origin of the individuals. In this sense, despite this division, it does not forget and in fact tries to rescue popular wisdom, vernacular languages and folklore in general, thus highlighting a nationalist sentiment.

Most important authors of romanticism

Among them we can find the following: Manuel Acuña and Manuel María Flores (Mexico), José María de Heredia and José Martí (Cuba), Edgar Allan Poe, James Cooper from the United States, Rafael Pombo (Colombia), Juan Antonio Pérez Bonalde, Eduardo Blanco (Venezuela), Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, from France, from Germany Johan Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich Schiller, the Brothers Grimm, from England Walter Scott, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, William Blake, Jane Austen, among others.

Among the most characteristic works of this movement are: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, Rhymes and Legends by Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Cantaes gallegos by Rosalía de Castro, Don Juan Tenorio by Zorrilla, Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, The Foreigner by Albert Camus, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, among others.

Learn more about other literary movements throughout history, their origins, characteristics and most important authors, as well as other information that will be of great interest to you. Remember that in our section you can also find biographies, genres and more.